Alistair Smith, ATO Director
The Association of Tree Officers, formerly known as the National Association of Tree Officers (NATO), was established in 1997 and was set up to serve the needs of local authority tree officers nationally.
Membership rose steadily from 1997 to the early 2000s, and from 1999 a series of national conferences and training workshops was organised, recognising the demand for training events targeted at local authority tree officers.
Imogen Mole, Senior Landscape Officer (Arboriculture), said, ‘In the early 2000s while I was working at Norwich City Council, the late Mike Volp encouraged me to step up as a NATO Director. As many of you may know, Mike was a great force for good. He and the other Directors at the time saw the value of a united tree officer voice.
‘Due to the financial challenges facing local authorities in more recent years, NATO worked closely with the London Tree Officers Association, and NATO was relaunched in 2018. The now Association of Tree Officers has gone from strength to strength. The dedicated team of Directors and the National Coordinator, who are located across the UK, work tirelessly to tackle the big topics affecting local authority arboriculture. We are very fortunate to have such a great group of people!’
The ATO remains an organisation that supports tree officers. There are two membership categories. Full members have access to two popular online seminars annually in which tree officers present on best practice and other industry experts and international speakers share their wider arboricultural experience. Information is sent out to all members on a regular basis, and of course our website provides valuable material to help support tree officers. In recent years the ATO has joined the National Tree Officer Conference (NTOC) steering group. Membership of the ATO has also been extended to housing association tree officers, recognising their responsibility for managing a large tree population.
The ATO also organises the Tree Officer Forum for regional tree officer groups (RTOGs), with four online meetings annually. The forum provides an opportunity for the chairs of RTOGs to discuss topical issues and listen to presentations by tree officers and other experts. The forum was born out of the NTOC in 2017, as a response to the obvious need for tree officer groups to network and share best practice.
The line-up of ATO Directors has recently been increased with the addition of Ed Henderson (www.ato.org.uk/about-ato/directors). Ed is currently the manager of the Ash Dieback Project at the Isle of Anglesey County Council (Ynys Môn) and is also the Lead for the North Wales Tree & Landscape Officers Group.
The ATO is supported by companies who provide invaluable help, enabling the organisation to represent local authority tree officers. Our current supporters are: Tree Life, PlanIT Geo, Ezytreev, Barcham tree specialists, GreenBlue Urban, Sorbus International and 3core2 Certification Ltd.
For more information about the organisation, please visit our website: www.ato.org.uk. If you are interested in supporting or joining ATO, please contact the National Coordinator (email: email@example.com).
This article was taken from Issue 203 Winter 2023 of the ARB Magazine, which is available to view free to members by simply logging in to the website and viewing your profile area.