While a horticulturalist cultivates fruits, flowers, vegetables and ornamentals (a ‘gardener’), and a forester harvests timber and manages forests (a ‘forest ranger’), an arborist cares for individual trees (a ‘tree doctor’). Arborists are knowledgeable about the needs of trees, and are trained and equipped to provide proper care.
Hiring an arborist is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Proper tree care is an investment that can lead to substantial returns. While well-cared-for trees are attractive and can add considerable value to your property, poorly-maintained trees can be a significant liability. Much of what passes for ‘professional’ tree care does more harm than good.
Certified Arborists have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care through experience and by passing a comprehensive exam by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA). Since certification requires ongoing education, Certified Arborists are more likely to be up to date on the latest techniques in arboriculture. While certification can attest to basic tree knowledge, it cannot ensure good ethics and performance.
The Board Certified Master Arborist (BCMA) credential recognizes the top few ISA Certified Arborists who have reached the pinnacle of their profession. BCMA certification involves significant experience, advanced education, passing an extensive, scenario-based exam which covers a broad scope of arboricultural management, science and work practices, as well as following the BCMA Code of Ethics, and continuing education (20 hours a year). While there are over 30,000 ISA Certified Arborists in 34 countries, only 565 are BCMA’s (less than 2%). South Carolina has 4.