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Kiwi to Lead International Tree Society

Media release

9 November, 2012

Kiwi to Lead International Tree Society

A Dunedin arborist became the first-ever Australasian president of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) last week.

Mark Roberts, an experienced arborist and academic director of horticulture training firm Thoughtplanters, is the second non-American elected to lead the 88-year-old society.

More than 20,000 arborists from 18 countries are members of ISA today.

Mr Roberts, 44, plans to bring a fresh Kiwi perspective to the Illinois-based organisation, while continuing to build on its strengths.

New Zealand arborists are some of the best in the world, he says.

“In 2011, Kiwis held both the men’s and women’s world title for tree climbing. In fact, you’ll find Kiwis rank in the top five climbers of the world year-on-year.

“We’re not afraid to innovate, try new techniques and we’re big users of the latest technology. Yet we’re also known for maintaining high standards of health and safety,” says Mr Roberts, who teaches hands-on, practical arboriculture to trainees in the workplace in New Zealand and overseas.

“Arboriculture, generally, has a lot to contribute to society and local communities, too. Take urban planning as an example. Arborists can help city planners in most major cities in the world address a wide range of tree management and issues.

“As president, I’ll be looking for opportunities to raise awareness about what arborists have to offer.

“I’ll also be urging New Zealand arborists, in fact all arborists, to keep improving their knowledge and skills by joining the ISA, as well as their local arboricultural association,” says Mr Roberts.

Mr Roberts will spend 2013 as the ISA’s president-elect and 2014 as ISA president.


Photo available on request.

Fact sheet

What is an arborist?
Someone who is trained to climb and prune trees in the forestry, horticultural, local government, domestic and electricity power lines industries.

Where did arboriculture originate?
Arboriculture can be traced back to the early Egyptians in 300BC. The beginnings of modern arboriculture can be traced back to the United Kingdom in the 1880s.

Who are the ISA?
The International Society of Arboriculture was founded in 1924 with 40 members. Today it promotes the professional practice of tree care through education and research.

How many arborists are there in New Zealand?
Approximately 2,000 – although New Zealand is facing a shortage of arborists.

How does someone become an arborist?
By learning and becoming qualified on-the-job (through industry and apprenticeship training) or by studying arboriculture at a polytechnic.


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