By Lanny Englund, CUFN Pacific Representative, with contributions from Annika Ingram, Program Manager, HortEducation, BC
Urban Forestry in British Columbia has grown in leaps and bounds since I first got started in the field 15 years ago.
Over this time, the number of BC municipalities with dedicated Urban Forestry staff has grown considerably, now at least 14 municipalities, and the programs that existed at that time have generally grown in both staffing and scope of their programs. There is no provincial organization that brings these Urban Forestry professionals together and I hope that a reinvigorated CUFN can play that role and also have the added benefit of the national perspective.
With the recent growth in Urban Forestry in BC and the Tree Service Industry in general the lack of a standardized training and certification program for climbing arborists became a significant gap. In an attempt to address this
gap, a dedicated group of people from the Tree Service Industry and municipal staff got together several years ago to develop a solution. The result was the Arboriculture Apprenticeship program developed by the Tree Service Industry in BC, which standardized training & safety and also seeks to increase the skilled climbing arborist labour pool in the province. The program is a progressive credential apprenticeship training system that includes; Level 1 – Arborist Technician, Level 2 – Climbing Arborist, and Level 3 – Field Arborist. Upon completion of each level and logging work based hours, the individual gains their Certificate of Qualification in that program. Tree Industry workers who can show the appropriate work experience have the option to challenge written exams and practical tests to gain a
Certificate of Qualification.
Each apprentice is eligible to receive a minimum of $4,000 in tax credits. The sponsor is also eligible to receive up to $6,500 in tax credits per apprentice. The forth intake of the Arborist Technician program will begin January 2015 at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley, BC. The Climbing Arborist program will begin its first intake in January 2015 at Electrical Industry Training Institute, in Mission, BC. The Field Arborist program will be offered in the near future.
From a municipal perspective, this program will facilitate enhanced stewardship of our Urban Forests by i) creating a standard that can be used to select perspective employees that can safely and effectively conduct tree work and ii) improving procurement of arboriculture services by using this qualification as an evaluation criteria when selecting a contractor.
For more information please visit www.HortEducationBC.com. Be sure to check out the YouTube videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/HortEducationBC. You can contact Annika Ingram, Program Manager, at email@example.com or call her at 604.430.0422.