ISA Annual International Conference and Trade Show, Orlando Florida. August 8-12, 2015. Gaylord Palms® Resort and Convention Center.
I’ve been working in horticulture and arboriculture for the better part of 32 years, and since concentrating on arboriculture I have been a member of the International Society of Arboriculture.
A substantial amount of my arboricultural knowledge has come from reading the Journal of Arboriculture, now the Arboriculture & Urban Forestry, and I can succinctly remember trawling through back issues in the Burnley library while I undertook my study.
Since that time I always wanted to go to the ISA Annual International Conference and Trade Show, however I never made it, not even to the Sydney (Parramatta) event which Tree Logic tools had a trade stand at! Well that all changed this year with my inaugural attendance at this year’s event held in Orlando, Florida.
Firstly, I have to make mention of the venue, Gaylord Palms® Resort and Convention Center…oh my. This was a huge resort encapsulated in a bubble, seriously, 7-8 story hotel surrounding a central atrium that was covered in a massive glass ceiling. It was all there, restaurants, cafes, limited shopping, etc, however it tended to isolate the attendees, certainly from Orlando proper (the resort was south of Orland city, a place called Kissimmee). Albeit that’s what delegates are essentially there for, to attend the sessions and network, it is, however in my opinion, a shame that you could not get out to explore the host city if you so choose. But on the positive side, it was certainly a more than capable venue for hosting the conference.
I attended two of the preliminary Tree Academy Workshops on the Sunday; ‘The 23 Questions of Plant Diagnostics – A Process to Sharpen Your Diagnostic Skills’, held by some of the most enthusiastic entomologists/pathologists from Ohio State University extension; they clearly love their work and it was great to hone your diagnostic skills with them. The other workshop was ‘i-Tree 2015: New Innovations for Assessing Community Tree Services and Values’ which was run by the guys from Davey, Al Zelaya, Mike Binkley and Jason Henning. This was also a very informative workshop as there are some big changes coming with the i-Tree suite of tools later in 2015. Unfortunately some of these tools such as i-Tree Landscape will not scale to Australian conditions, however i-Tree Eco still has a great role to play in ascertaining the environmental benefits our urban forests provide us and the i-Tree team is developing ways to make the assessment and reporting much easier for practitioners. Tree Logic will be holding a workshop in October to discuss tree mapping options, including the use of i-Tree so stay tuned…
In terms of the conference proper, in general terms I am of the opinion that the state of arboriculture in Australia is in good shape compared to what is happening around the world; in short, for me, there were no significant ‘light bulb’ moments that struck a chord with me and that I felt need to be applied to arboricultural practice here; there were however some great inspirational moments, and here are some of my highlights.
Dr David Nowak is a Project Leader with the USDA Forest Service in Syracuse, NY. Dr Nowak has been instrumental in the development of research into the environmental or ecosystem services that vegetation plays in our cities, which has led to the development of the i-Tree suite of tools. He was also the recipient of the ISA 2015 L.C. Chadwick Award for Arboricultural Research.
Dr Nowak gave one of the keynote addresses to open up the conference and really emphasised the role that trees play in helping us deal with the pending climatic changes. One part of his speech that really struck home for the general audience was that if trees are good (the slogan from the ISA) then urban forests are better, which gave focus to the role of single trees in the greater urban forest. He stressed the importance of tree practitioners at all levels conveying this message to our clients with particular emphasis on the benefit to human health that trees can provide.
Cecil Konijnendijk van den Bosch also followed the theme of the benefits of trees in cities with his paper; Green Cities, Happy Cities – Nine Steps for Strengthening City-Forest Relationships, where he equated the benefits of trees to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and discussed 9 characteristics that added benefits to communities above those that could be quantified with a program such as i-Tree.
The highpoint of the conference for me was the Society of Commercial Arboriculture (SCA) –Tour Structural Pruning at Leu Gardens (SCA) conducted by Dr Ed Gilman from the University of Florida. It was great get out of the conference centre, get to a lovely botanical garden and to catch up with Ed and get some real hands-on type discussion on tree management.
Dr Gilman emphasised the four things you should remember when pruning a tree; this is all predicated on an objective as to why you are undertaking the pruning in the first place. The 4 things to remember are: What type of cut, such as a reduction cut or removal cut; where the cut is made in the tree; how many cuts; and, how big the cut is. Dr Gilman is not so much concerned about pruning amount, which is the amount of live crown/foliage removed from a tree in any one dose. We should consider the client and their needs and the pruning cycle, that is when will be the next time you get to prune this tree, as this will affect the four considerations.
After the discussion, attendees had the chance to see 10 years of progress pruning by viewing trees that Dr Gilman has been working on in the Leu Gardens as well as some practical demonstrations by local arborists. The discussions amongst the group was as informative and apart from the particularly hot and humid day it was a fantastic day.
Apart from the informational sessions, the conference was a great opportunity to network, meet new friends and catch up with some old ones, all with a common theme of trees. I can tick that one off my bucket list now and I might turn my eye to what Europe is doing in arboriculture in the future.