I’ve always been proud of my role as an arboriculturist. Feeling a deep connection with nature and being able to help people using an intimate knowledge of such a niche subject has huge appeal and charm. At the same time, I have never been comfortable with the title ‘arboriculturist’ or the even more tongue tying ‘arboriculturalist’ as some in our profession call themselves. It was the same when I was a tree surgeon. When people asked what I did for a living, I often felt slightly awkward saying it. A surgeon is someone who heals people, a tree surgeon uses a mechanical saw to remove parts of a tree or end their life by felling them to the ground. There’s no correlation between the two, it doesn’t make any sense to me. The term ‘tree surgery’ makes it sound like we have skills in healing. I’m yet to experience the healing properties of a chainsaw.
I love the industry that I’ve dedicated the past 25 years of my life to. My point is that I don’t understand why we need to use job titles that typically people don’t understand and often can’t even pronounce. It almost feels like we need to use something much grander to make us sound more credible. To me, it shows a distinct lack of confidence in what we do. Neither the Merriam Webster or Oxford dictionaries even have ‘arboriculturist’ listed as a word. They both describe arboriculture as ‘the cultivation of trees and shrubs’. Nobody has ever paid me to cultivate a tree or a shrub!
Why can’t we just say it like it is. I’m a Tree Consultant. It says what’s in the tin, it says the word ‘tree’ which is surely helpful and it doesn’t make me sound like I’m trying to baffle people with unpronouncable words. Interestingly, even our professional body, the Arboricultural Association uses the term ‘tree consultant’ on their website to describe this section of their membership. Both the aforementioned online dictionaries similarly describe a consultant as ‘one who gives professional advice or services’. Now that is exactly what I get paid for. I give professional advice about trees.
I work in a service industry, and I think there’s something wrong when our customers struggle to pronounce the service that we’re trying to sell to them. At Urban Green we’re trying to build a culture of inclusiveness, sharing ideas and knowledge, of openness.
I have pride in what we do and am confident in how we do it. So if you want me to cultivate your trees and shrubs, I’m sorry I can’t help but if you want professional expert advice about all of your tree related issues, then I’m your man.
Scott Fitzgerald (Tree Consultant)