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Documenting Evidence: Practical Guidance for Arborists

November 27, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Instructor: Dr. Julian Dunster CEUs: 6

Arborists routinely examine trees for health and risk. The assignment may involve site review, or checking a tree before pruning or removing it. Perhaps it involves collecting data to report about appraisal of damage or trespass issues, or 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 and climbers, 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:

  • what was seen
  • how it was considered and interpreted,
  • what the likely implications are, and
  • opinions about how best to proceed.

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 show what was done and why. In this course we will examine all of these stages and learn how to effectively implement two key principles:

  • Know what you are looking for.
  • Know what you are looking at.

Topics covered include how to systematically collect, analyse and interpret evidence, record keeping, and photography, and how to assemble all of that into a well ordered report. Before the course, participants are encouraged to submit case studies for class discussion. Selected examples will be used as a group exercise to examine strengths and weaknesses and suggest ways in which we can all improve our professional practice.

A copy of Dr. Julian Dunster’s book Documenting Evidence. Practical Guidance for Arborists will be provided as part of the registration cost.

The course is designed and delivered by Dr. Julian Dunster and is based on over thirty years of hands on-experience working on tree projects in many different parts of the world.

Evidence is a critical part of our daily work. is new book by Dr. Julian Dunster provides a comprehensive review of why and how evidence should be collected and documented. Using examples and color photographs from several decades of experience, the author lays out the steps necessary to provide evidence that accurately recreates conditions on site. is includes the processes necessary to think through what will be needed before the site visit takes place, while on site, and a afterwards, when analyzing the materials in order to form an opinion based on accurate and unbiased evidence. e book will be of interest to arborists, foresters, and consultants wishing to show what they did, how they did it, and how they derived their opinions.

Registrants for the course are encouraged to submit a case study for discussion in class. The case studies selected will be presented by Dr. Julian Dunster with input from the submitter. You may submit up to three case studies. For each case study try to put together the following details.

  • What were you doing? Preparing an estimate? Assessing tree risk? Tree Health?
  • Describe it for us and explain why it was important
  • How you analysed and interpreted what you saw
  • What process did you use? Were any tools involved? If so tell us about how you used them and why.
  • What were your conclusions / opinions about what you found?
  • What did you recommend and why?
  • Tell us why you selected that recommendation
  • Tell us what you learned from the case?

We will have about ten minutes for each case study. Four or five of the submissions will be selected and 4 or 5 power point images showing the exact issue to be discussed. Start with a broad shot of what attracted your attention, then move down to details, and if possible, show us what you found after investigation. Keep the images simple and clear.

Registrants who wish to submit a case study can do so by emailing directly to Dr. Dunster: jd@dunster.ca


Dr. Julian Dunster has unique academic and professional qualifications. He is a Registered Consulting Arborist, a Registered Professional Forester, and a Registered Professional Planner, and in addition to two degrees in forestry, he holds a Doctorate in Regional Planning and Resource Development. Julian has over thirty years of hands on experience from assignments all over the world, and his innovative work has been recognized with many awards. Julian uses these qualifications and expertise to provide you with practical, science based information, combined with a pragmatic understanding of what will or will not work well.

Refund Policy

  • Cancellations made at least 10 days prior to the event will be refunded at 100%.
  • Cancellations made within 5-9 days of the event will be refunded at 75%.
  • Cancellations made within 1-4 days of the event will be refunded at 50%.
  • Refunds will not be made available for no-shows.

CEUs: 6.0 for A, U, M, TW, L.  BCMA breakdown:

Allied Professionals are members of allied organizations. See our list of qualifying organizations.


Rotary Field House at South Surrey Recreation Center Complex
2197 148 St
Surrey, British Columbia V4A 9P5 Canada