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John Parker

Arboricultural Association, UK




John Parker has been Chief Executive Officer of the Arboricultural Association since July 2021, and previously held the role of Technical Director at the Association from August 2019. John is a member of the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF) International Steering Group, a UK representative on the European Arboricultural Council and as Association CEO is President of the International Society of Arboriculture’s UK & Ireland Associate Organisation. He is a Chartered Environmentalist, Chartered Forester and an Associate Member of the Royal Society of Biology. 

He frequently presents at national and international conferences and has delivered a TED Talk entitled Why trees are better than people (available on YouTube). Since spring 2020 John has chaired the Arboricultural Association webinar series, covering a huge range of topics to a global audience. From 2012-2019 John was a member of the Executive Committee of the London Tree Officers Association, which he Chaired in 2016-18, and until 2019 he was a Director of the National Association of Tree Officers. 

In 2018 he was named Young European Urban Forester of the Year and in 2022 he was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in Horticulture by Pro Landscaper Magazine. From 2020 until 2022 he was as a Trustee of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, the national UK tree collection. 

John is interested in public engagement, green equity and promoting the benefits of trees, with particular consideration for their social and cultural value. He is the founder of the Stonehouse Community Arboretum and is a Trustee of the Doverow Hill Trust.


Arbori-what? Raising awareness of the tree care profession

The challenge of improving standards in an unregulated sector


Arbori-what? Raising awareness of the tree care profession

Very few people know or give credit to the science of tree care, or arboriculture, to give it its proper title.” These words could have been written today, but in fact this is a quote from an article by Bill Matthews which was published in the Arboricultural Association Magazine of December 1971. In this presentation, John Parker – Chief Executive Officer of the Arboricultural Association – will describe some of the key challenges facing the arboricultural sector in the UK and will explore some of the ways in which the profession is responding to those challenges. In particular, John will focus on the key challenge of a lack of recognition of arboriculture. Everyone seems to be talking about the importance of trees, but tree care professionals are rarely considered by the general public or politicians. Tree planting remains extremely popular, but tree establishment is often forgotten about. What can we do to bridge these gaps in order to ensure a healthy and sustainable arboricultural profession? John will attempt to address this question through discussing the current situation in the UK and describing what the Arboricultural Association and its members are doing to try to improve the situation.

The challenge of improving standards in an unregulated sector

Arboriculture in the UK remains an unregulated profession. In theory at least, anyone can buy themselves a chainsaw and call themselves an arborist. This situation has serious implications for health and safety, standards of tree work and for the reputation of the sector, and this presentation will explore some of the ways in which the Arboricultural Association and partner organisations seek to raise standards and drive forward professionalism in a difficult environment. This includes accreditations such as the Approved Contractor and Registered Consultant Schemes, professional membership and charterships, continuous professional development and training, best practice guidance documentation, political lobbying and public engagement. There is also an important link here with the succession crisis in arboriculture – where is the next generation of tree acre professionals coming from, and how do we attract them to the sector and offer them a clear pathway of career development? Things have certainly improved in many ways over the six decades since the Arboricultural Association was founded, but there is still much to do.

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