Communities who want to officially recognize the value of professional management of their community forest resource, and have sufficient financial resources to commit to this management, usually establish a position of arborist or forester, and write this into their tree ordinance.  Establishing this position in the ordinance will also clearly define who is responsible for administering the tree ordinance on a day-to-day basis.

In Georgia, there are 59 communities that reference a city or county arborist or forester in their tree ordinances, 9 of which include a separate section establishing this role and describing this individual’s responsibilities. 

When establishing this position in the tree ordinance, the following provisions are usually included:

  • Title of position
  • Qualifications
  • Responsibilities and authority for community forest management
  • Responsibilities and authority in administration of the tree ordinance
  • Reporting requirements

The qualifications of the arborist or forester may or may not be stated in the ordinance.  A minimum requirement that the arborist or forester is an ISA Certified Arborist or a Georgia Registered Forester is recommended.

Griffin, in Section 98-34, Article II. – Trees, Chapter 98 – Vegetation of their city code, establishes the position of city arborist and sets forth the arborist’s responsibilities and qualifications.

To remain flexible and responsive to current needs, the Griffin tree ordinance states that the city arborist may be employed by the city on a full-time, part-time, or contract basis.  Their arborist operates within the department of public works administration.

The Griffin city arborist must meet the following qualifications, as stated in the tree ordinance:

  • The arborist shall possess a bachelor’s degree in biology, botany, horticulture, or forestry or a minimum of three year’s experience in arboriculture.
  • Experience must be accompanied by certification through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), or if employed without certification, it must be obtained within two years of employment.
  • Familiarity with proper pruning procedures, fertilization practices, soil properties, diagnosis and treatment for insect pests and diseases, cabling and general tree biology is essential.
  • A current pesticide applicator’s license is required and must be maintained.
  • Knowledge of modern instrumentation and computer generated programs for the management of urban forests is desirable.

In Griffin the arborist is responsible for providing written reports to the tree board that are necessary to assist the board in making decisions.  In addition, the city arborist is responsible for routine tree maintenance such as planting, removal and other maintenance of trees and shrubs on city property.