Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arboricultural Association.

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Updates on your journal: The importance of contributing

Author:  Ian Rotherham
Last Updated:  07/08/2023

Ian Rotherham

In our third feature about the Arboricultural Journal, we touch on issues of significance and relevance at a time when the role of arboriculture and the professionals delivering tree management continues to grow in importance.

Overall, the tree management sector is vibrant, but for some, especially those in local authorities and agencies, resources seem to be spread evermore thinly.

Yet as urban trees especially are at the forefront of environmental responses to climate change and adaptation, and to threats such as flood risk, you might be forgiven for expecting resources to be forthcoming for such essential services.

Indeed, when decisions go badly wrong and sometimes at huge public cost and expense (such as with a number of high-profile urban and street trees issues in the UK), a more effective and properly resourced tree management service is shown to be cost-effective. Maybe the problem overall is that very often we know the price of such service delivery, but we (society) don’t appreciate the value.

Global exchange of ideas

Increasingly, too, in terms of urban greenspace management, societies rely more and more on community volunteers, and recent journal papers from North America shed light on approaches, benefits and support. The journal plays a major role in helping to facilitate such exchanges in ideas and practice between professionals and researchers around the world. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why it is so important to encourage practitioners to write and to share.

This becomes significant as older professionals move towards the end of their careers so that when they retire their invaluable experiences and skills are in danger of being lost. Both the ARB Magazine and the Arboricultural Journal offer ways in which to capture and share a lifetime of professional experience and of practitioner or researcher observations. My plea to those reading this is to please take up the offer and the opportunity.

Supporting emerging researchers and writers

The journal provides a route for upcoming researchers and practitioner writers to gain valuable experience too, and the idea of ‘Research Notes’ is to provide a halfway house to showcase work that is significant but not quite (yet) at the academic standard of a fully refereed paper. The Notes are single refereed and edited and can include substantial practitioner contributions. This is also a mechanism to get material to publication in the earlier stages of a project and perhaps when results and ideas are really still cutting edge and novel. Maybe a full paper will follow in due course, but with issues like disease and pest outbreaks and control, for example, it is important to get initial findings and observations out to the industry as quickly as possible.

For younger and less experienced writers, it is often a good thing to partner up with more experienced colleagues. This is frequently done as a matter of course in academic and research institutions such as universities, colleges and government agencies. Larger consultancy practices with a research component also find this a valuable way to grow staff confidence and experience. An additional (and not insignificant) added value of publishing is simply to enhance your professional reputation and standing amongst your peers. As academics know full well, we live and work in a very competitive environment! For consultancies too, publication offers a free chance to be increasingly known to a global audience.

In terms of these latter considerations, the journal is especially helpful to emerging researchers and other writers because the double-refereed paper is the ‘gold star’ for achievement and therefore acts as a measure of your success. In ensuring the high standards and necessary speed of processing of papers and notes, as alluded to in previous articles, the contributions of referees, reviewers and editorial board members are invaluable. This is why we depend so heavily on invited reviewers and volunteers to deliver this.

Wide range of submissions welcome

We welcome practitioner and researcher papers, articles and notes on the diversity of tree-related topics, and not just with a UK focus but from around the world. Our core focus is on the urban and peri-urban environments but in our increasingly urban society, this casts the net rather widely. We also encourage tree-related submissions which are not necessarily restricted to urban situations.

Our coverage complements that of the more forestry-related journals but obviously with a degree of overlap. We remain a distinctive and leading publication in the field and this all depends on your active participation and on your contributions! Similarly, it is always good to trigger discussion and debate on issues and publications through letters to the editor or through your own follow-up articles and papers. If you are in doubt about a submission or further involvement, then just get in touch.

If you have any questions or queries about the Arboricultural Journal please ask, and we will do our best to answer them in these articles. Our contact email is aajournaleditor@hallamec.plus.com

Professor Ian D. Rotherham, Editor
Christine Handley, Editorial Assistant

Volunteer engagement in urban forestry in the United States: reviewing the literature

This article presents the results of a literature review related to volunteerism in urban forestry in the United States. Themes explored were inductively emergent from the research reviewed and included ‘volunteer demographics’, ‘motivations of volunteers’, ‘benefits of volunteering’, ‘volunteer engagement and barriers’, ‘value of volunteering’, and ‘volunteer recruitment and retention’.

Urban forestry volunteers are often motivated by personal, social, and environmental considerations. They may not be representative of a cross-section of the communities that they are serving, rather they are often middle-aged, well-educated white women. Further research is required both to ascertain barriers to volunteerism and to enhance future volunteer recruitment and retainment efforts.

Volunteers in the United States account for 5% of municipal tree care in urban forests – accounting for an estimated $35 million USD in value. Volunteers perform critical urban forestry-related tasks that aim to increase urban tree canopy cover through tree selection and planting efforts. Volunteers encourage urban tree survival by advocating for, as well as performing, important maintenance-related duties including the administration of supplemental watering and urban tree pruning. With proper training and support, volunteers may accurately perform important data collection efforts that may inform management decisions and urban tree care maintenance programmes.

Alexander J. Elton, Richard W. Harper, Lauren F. Bullard, Eric E. Griffith
and Benjamin S. Weil

Gator bags may be placed and refilled by volunteers to facilitate urban tree watering. (photo: R. Harper)

Gator bags may be placed and refilled by volunteers to facilitate urban tree watering. (photo: R. Harper)

To access this article from the Arboricultural Journal (volume 45, issue 2), go to www.trees.org.uk/Membership/Arboricultural-Journal, follow the link and log in to your Association account.

This article was taken from Issue 202 Autumn 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.