Tested and approved by the International Society of Arboriculture, the ISA Certified Arborist® has the knowledge and skills to perform a variety of services in the tree care industry.
Their studies include:
• tree biology,
• pest identification,
• proper pruning techniques,
• climbing how-to,
• safe methods for lowering branches and heavy wood,
• tree and risk assessment
and more. They are required to accrue continuing education credits towards re-certification every three years.
An ISA Certified Arborist® may be equated to a licensed electrician or plumber who has been thoroughly trained.
However, only a handful of states license arborists, including
Connecticut, Maine, Louisiana and Rhode Island. In other states, the arbor industry is unregulated, leaving the choice up to consumers about who performs tree work.
Local jurisdictions, such as a city, may regulate the profession to minimize the local damage that can be done by improper pruning techniques. Check with your city or county for any ordinances that protect trees from damage from untrained tree workers.
Individuals who are certified are knowledgeable in all phases of tree
care, and some may work in a capacity where they are not performing tree
care. You'll find them in municipal positions, working as appraisers,
or as landscapers or running arboretums. Many are providing residential and commercial tree care.
Having an ISA Certified Arborist® consult with you insures that you are getting expert tree advice and the best possible options for pruning or removal. Having that same person perform the work, or supervise a crew, is the best guarantee that you will have tree care performed properly.
Topping is an old term that sometimes is used for all types of tree care. Some homeowners actually do want topping to minimize the crown of the tree. Some non-ISA tree workers may offer topping because it's the old-fashioned way of keeping trees from getting too big. However...
According to Susan C. French, Extension Technician and Bonnie Lee Appleton, Extension Horticulturist, at Virginia Tech here in our home state, topping trees:
1) reduces food-making capacity
2) stimulates undesirable "water sprout" growth
3) leaves large wounds
4) creates a hazard
S) injures bark
6) and disfigures trees
For more information on why not to top, see the researchers informative page. Topping is not supported by research or by the ISA professional organization.