Trees Have Value!

People place value on trees every time they buy a tree at a nursery, purchase a wooded lot to build upon, choose a hotel room with a view, park a car under a shade tree, suspend a swing from a branch, walk through a park or choose a scenic route driving home.

What is Tree & Plant Appraisal?

Value is the monetary worth at a given time with the expectation of future benefits. Finding the value of plants in the landscape, especially large trees, can not be looked up in a Kelly Blue Book. A dollar figure, which provides an estimate or approximate value, can quantify most benefits. However, a tree’s true worth may be judged by a sale or a court ruling.

Appraisal requires extensive training, expertise, and experience. Like real estate appraisers, plant appraisers have the responsibility of assigning values and preparation to defend, explain, and support their results. Not everyone who wields a chainsaw can do appraisals. If you are pursuing tree valuation, you should retain the services of a qualified consulting arborist who can properly apply approaches, methods and techniques that best relate to your situation.

Tree appraisal assigns monetary importance to any on-site tree which is indicative of its contribution. An appraisal constitutes developing an opinion of value or cost of a site’s landscape attributes. Its purpose is defined by a client’s needs, which may include development, trespass, wildfire, unexpected losses, tort claims, insurance claims, tax deductions, real estate assessment, and proactive planning.

The best time to conduct an appraisal is prior to injury. However, most appraisals occur after the tree has already been damaged, felled or removed. Such situations may require additional investigation, to include pre-casualty value, comparative sampling, site records, and even witnesses to determine the pre-damage condition.

Upon gathering all relevant facts, the appraiser determines the appropriate method and provides an unbiased valuation. The appraiser must not advocate for their client, if their report is to be credible. For all but the smallest of claims, retaining a good attorney is recommended. The appraiser should document all activities, from initiating client contact and establishing background information to inspecting the site, collecting data, and formulating a reasonable and defensible value.

What is Tree & Plant Appraisal Qualification?

The American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA) offers the Tree & Plant Appraisal Qualification (TPAQ) credential. The course uses instructor-led discussions and case scenarios to illustrate concepts in becoming proficient in appraisals using various approaches, methods and techniques, economic principles, field data collection and measuring, contained in the Guide for Plant Appraisal. Training culminates with a comprehensive exam. The Course/Exam must be retaken every 5 years or when a new edition comes out (whichever comes first).

Compared to Real Estate Appraisers, very few arborists perform tree appraisals. Fewer are competent. South Carolina has two TPAQ arborists.

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