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Why should I hire a qualified arborist?

Pruning and removing trees can be a dangerous and technically difficult job, and should only be carried out by those who are trained to do so. Poor maintenance of your trees can result in loss of tree health and / or structural stability. Arborist care for trees and provide services that can improve and enhance your tree's health, visual amenity and long term structural integrity. Qualified arborist are able to provide a range of services.

  • Consultation
  • Tree Health Care
  • Report Writing
  • Pruning (Australian standard compliant)
  • Removal
  • Management Plans

A qualified arborist will be able to provide you with proof of qualifications, so always check with your tree specialist provider, as well as insurance and references. It is important to understand the difference between tree loppers and qualified arborists. Tree poppers are often untrained and not educated in correct pruning techniques, they are therefore not able to make informed decisions about your trees. Tree lopping is often sold as a 'quick fix' for tree problems but this creates for more problems than it fixes. Trees that are lopped are extremely likely to develop structural faults, and can become hazardous. For more information please visit the Queensland Arboricultural Association.


Arborist and tree conservation

Trees provide an enormous range of benefits, some are often overlooked:

  • Enhancement of local environment and ecosystems
  • Provision of shade and shelter
  • Reduction of pollutants and sequestration of carbon dioxide
  • Improved well being

Trees are also a great asset and can increase property values significantly as well as being large, complex organisms in their own right. Whenever possible an arborist will advise for tree maintenance rather than tree removal. In what is fast becoming a concrete city, it is vital to protect the invaluable trees we have left, and in most cases removal can be avoided by regular tree maintenance and correct pruning. A qualified arborist will be able to provide a full consultation to best suit your tree health care needs.

What is lopping?

Lopping is not good for trees, neither is it good for tree keepers. Lopping is the cutting of stems or branches to 'stubs' or to lateral branches that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. We hear regularly from concerned tree owners that their trees have been lopped, often after they were advised by a 'tree lopper' that this would solve a perceived problem, such as concern that a tree had grown to tall to manage or that too many leaves were clogging up their gutters. The reality is that tree lopping creates many more problems than it solves. Lopping often removes between 50-100% of the trees' canopy as a trees' foliage is essential for food production, this kind of shock triggers new growth that is added to combat the massive amounts of stress that the tree suffers. This new growth is sometimes called epicormic or reaction growth. The tree needs to produce a new crop of leaves as soon as possible in order to continue to produce enough food to survive. If a tree does not have the stored energy reserves to do this, it may die. Trees that are stressed are vulnerable to insect and disease infestations, while large, open pruning wounds expose the sapwood and heartwood to decay fungi.

A qualified arborist can provide alternatives to lopping, such as pruning or canopy reductions. There are recommended techniques for performing this work (see Australian Standard AS 4373-2007: Pruning of Amenity Trees). If a branch must be shortened, it should be cut back to a lateral that is large enough to assume the terminal role. A guideline for this is at least 1/3 the diameter of the limb being removed. This method of branch reduction should ideally retain the natural form of the tree. This form of prune is given knowledge of a qualified arborist.

Trees & powerlines

Energex's Trees and Powerlines Program works to maintain trees and vegetation for a safe community and to deliver a safe and reliable electricity supply to homes. This means that home owners are able to contact Energex if a tree or vegetation requires pruning back from powerlines and Energex will send out an arborist to complete the required tree works free of charge to the home owner. It is in Energex's best interests to minimize any possible damage encroaching tree limbs may cause to their assets and that is why Energex have teamed up with the Queensland Arboricultural Association to provide such services. It is important to note however that this service only applies for publically owned powerlines and Energex will only have the tree or vegetation pruned back, not removed. If the powerlines are privately owned or the encroaching trees require a complete removal it is highly recommending to hire a qualified arborist to complete the tree trimming work.

When hiring someone to do any tree works near powerlines it is important that they meet the following criteria:

  1. Hire a professional climbing arborist

    Working in close proximity to powerlines is dangerous and requires fully trained professionals who know exactly what they are doing. Tree loppers that are untrained could potentially harm themselves and your property. Untrained or uninformed tree loppers may also incorrectly prune the tree by simply lopping back branches which can cause further issues in the future. It is important that the arborist you hire is familiar with Australian Standard AS4373 (2007) Pruning of Amenity Trees.

  2. Check that their public liability insurance allows them to work within the vicinity of powerlines

    Just because an arborist has public liability insurance does not mean they are covered to work near powerlines. Many public liability insurances offer different levels of cover for arborists, most generally do not include working near powerlines so please check with your qualified arborist before undergoing any tree works.

To access Energex's tree pruning service please visit

Storm Preparation

Before the storm, how to prepare.

Have your trees inspected regularly (e.g. every two years) so that any problems can be addressed early and at a time that suits you. A qualified and experienced arborist can do this efficiently and economically.

Look for potential hazards and investigate the condition of your trees. You or a qualified arborist should look for damage such as: cracks in the trunk of major limbs; hollow, aged and decayed trees; hanging branches; improperly formed branches; one sided or significantly leaning trees; and branches that may come into contact with the house.

Know your tree - some species are more prone to storm damage. You should have a qualified arborist evaluate your trees hardiness and resilience. Being aware of trees which may succumb to harsh weather conditions will help you decide if you want to replace these potentially dangerous species.

Do not top or lop your trees - untrained individuals may urge you to cut back or lop all of the branches, on the mistaken assumption that it will help avoid breakage in future storms. However, professional arborists say that topping, the cutting of main branches back to stubs, is extremely harmful and unhealthy for your trees. Re-growth will be weakly attached branches that are higher and are more likely to break when  storm strikes. Also, topping will reduce the amount of foliage, on which the tree depends for the food and nourishment needed for re-growth. A topped tree that has already sustained major storm damage is more likely to die than repair itself.

Protect your assets - trees may increase property value by up to 20%. Find our if your homeowner's insurance will cover any damage your landscape may sustain due to natural causes and include the total values of your trees when listing your assets for coverage. A qualified arborist can provide an estimate value by inspecting your trees.

Trees are dynamic living things that require proper care. Hiring a qualified arborist who can assist you with pre-storm inspections and post-storm repairs can help avoid unnecessary loss of your trees.

Vegetation Protection Orders (VPOs)

Brisbane City Council has the authority to protect important vegetation by making Vegetation Protection Orders in accordance with Section 8 of the Natural Assets Local Law 2003. Vegetation Protection Orders can apply to individual trees, groups of trees or heritage trees that add to an area’s unique landscape character. This vegetation beautifies Brisbane’s suburbs and streetscapes, provides cool shady relief in summer, contributes to wildlife habitat and can enhance property values. It is valued by the community and by Council, so they are afforded special protection. Having vegetation protected does not mean that you will not be able to use your land or manage the species that are protected, and Council provides advice and support to those who have protected vegetation on their property.

It is important to check with your local council for Vegetation Protection Orders before any tree works commence. If a tree that has a Vegetation Protection Order is pruned or removed without council removal it can result in serious fines and penalties. A qualified and experienced arborist will be able to identify trees that could potentially have Vegetation Protection Orders and most will check with your local council on your behalf if requested. For further information please visit Protected Vegetation on the Brisbane City Council website.