Dealing with trees can be a daunting task for any homeowner—after all, trees look nice and can provide shade and curb appeal, but they can also cause catastrophic property damage. When you have a sick tree or need to have a tree moved, trimmed, or taken down altogether, consulting an arborist who is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) can help you make the best decisions for your situation.

What Is an Arborist?

Simply put, an arborist is a tree expert. Arborists know everything there is to know about trees: how to plant them, how to care for them, and how to maintain them. Arborists can prune trees, cable and brace unwieldy limbs, provide emergency tree care, and, if necessary, remove trees. They often provide consulting services to groups and individuals and can perform tree risk assessments to determine the health of a tree and the likelihood of damage to the surrounding area if it’s not healthy.

What Is the ISA?

The ISA, or International Society of Arboriculture, is an organization that is committed to educating the public about the benefits of trees. In addition to education, public outreach, and overseeing the certification of professional arborists, the ISA also emphasizes research and involvement in sustainability practices relating to trees and the environment. The ISA maintains regional and international chapters, and it is led by a board of directors made up of members from all over the world.

Why Choose an ISA-Certified Arborist?

Although there are several other reputable professional organizations for arborists (in fact, an arborist may choose to hold memberships in two or three), the ISA is the only organization that provides professional certification. To even qualify to take the certification exam, the ISA requires arborists to complete three or more years of full-time, practical work experience in arboriculture or have a degree in arboriculture, horticulture, landscape architecture, or forestry from an accredited educational institute. What that means for a homeowner is that ISA-certified arborists have passed a rigorous, formal test on top of possessing several years of practical knowledge.

Like many professional organizations, the ISA requires that its credential holders participate in professional development opportunities and continuing education courses to maintain their certification. ISA-certified arborists must also adhere to a stringent code of ethics that reflects the values, beliefs, and best practices of the International Society of Arboriculture. An ISA Certified Arborist® is backed by (and held accountable to) an established organization with strict standards, so you can breathe a little easier when you run into problems with a multiton tree looming over your roof.

Hiring an arborist when you need tree services is always a smart idea, but working with an ISA Certified Arborist® ensures that you will benefit from the most up-to-date knowledge of an experienced tree specialist who will recommend the very best ways to care for your trees.

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Sources: Georgia Forestry Commission; International Society of Arboriculture.

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