Wednesday, November 30
8:30 am–4:15 pm

Pre-Conference Workshop

Documenting Evidence

Arborists routinely examine trees for health and risk. The assignment might involve site review or checking a tree before pruning or removing it. It could involve collecting data to report on appraising damage or trespass issues, or performing forensic investigations about injuries caused by falling trees.

This course covers the professional practice of recognizing and understanding evidence and learning how to effectively use it in reports. It applies to tree care companies; climbers; and municipal, utility, and Consulting Arborists—anyone working with trees who may later need to explain what was done on any given day.

In every case, from the routine to the unusual, the arborist needs to clearly understand the practical and intellectual process of documenting what was seen on site. That is then translated into a written (or verbal) description identifying:

Regardless of the assignment, the process needs to be systematic, thorough, and clearly documented. Later on, if the report or other records are examined and questioned (often many years later), the arborist can then go back and clearly verify what was done and why.

In this course, we will examine all of these stages and learn how to effectively implement two key principles:

Topics covered include how to systematically collect, analyze, and interpret evidence; how to keep records and take photographs; and how to assemble all of this information into a well-ordered report.
Before the course, participants will be able to submit case studies for class discussion. Selected examples will be used in a group exercise to examine strengths and weaknesses and suggest ways in which we can all improve our professional practice.

Before the course, participants will be able to submit case studies for class discussion. Selected examples will be used in a group exercise to examine strengths and weaknesses and suggest ways in which we can all improve our professional practice.

Julian Dunster, Ph.D.

Dunster & Associates
Victoria, BC Canada

Dr. Julian Dunster is a past president of the ISA Pacific Northwest Chapter. Recognized as an international expert on tree risk assessment, he designed and implemented the Certified Tree Risk Assessor credential and programme (TRACE) and trained most Certified Tree Risk Assessors in British Columbia. He is the principal author of the latest ISA Tree Risk Assessment Manual (2013) and is the British Columbia instructor for the ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) course. He has undertaken many risk assessments across Canada; has helped the U.S. Forest Service with its hazard tree assessment procedures; and helped the government of Hong Kong design and implement its tree risk training programs, policies, and procedures.

Dr. Dunster has also undertaken tree retention projects; inventories; community forest and site-specific management plans on large and small scales for a range of public, private, and corporate clients; and damage appraisal projects, and has delivered expert witness testimony in court cases and inquests in Canada and Hong Kong. He has given lectures and undertaken consulting projects in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Nepal, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, and China. He has worked on a wide range of planning projects, including writing the National Environmental Impact Assessment Guidelines for forestry projects in Nepal; conducting an audit of sustainable forestry practices in southern Chile and Tierra del Fuego; researching conservation issues in Scandinavia; and working on urban forestry plans and tree bylaws in British Columbia. He has published several books; the award-winning Dictionary of Natural Resource Management is now a standard reference, and Arboriculture and the Law in Canada is often cited in Canadian court cases as a definitive reference. His new book, Documenting Evidence: Practical Guidance for Arborists, was published in September 2014. Julian was a member of the panel of experts that designed the ISA risk qualification and Tree Risk Assessment—Best Management Practices and Managing Trees During Construction—Best Management Practices. He currently serves on the ISA Plant Valuation and Appraisal Committee.

Dr. Dunster received his doctorate in regional planning and resource development from the University of Waterloo. He is a Registered Consulting Arborist, a Registered Professional Forester in British Columbia, and a Registered Professional Planner.