What does your job involve?
I help look after around 12,500 trees in and around Bracknell. My role is divided into two main functions: assessing the condition of trees for safety and responding to customer assistance requests.
We get around 400-450 customer enquiries each year, relating to trees in and around our customer’s homes. People ask us to prune and remove trees because they drop leaves, cause shade and because they believe they are unsafe. Although we try to accommodate all requests, in many instances, we are unable to because we typically only prune trees when they pose a danger or are causing a significant nuisance.
We manage our trees through a zonal planned inspection programme which sets an inspection frequency for each tree dependant on its location. Trees on areas of land designated as high risk, such as next to a busy highway, a school, or a bus stop, are inspected every year. Trees situated on medium risk areas, such as communal land around our estates, are surveyed every three years and trees located in areas designated as low risk, typically gardens, are inspected every 5 years.
How did you get into housing?
I got into housing by chance. I applied for the job not fully understanding what Housing Associations actually did. I’ve been with Silva for four years now and this is the first time I’ve been in the housing industry. Before Silva, I worked as an Arboricultural Officer a for a county council, which was a very similar role. The major difference is that much of my inspection work is now done on private land as well as on communal land.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love getting to be on my feet all day, walking around and being close to nature. It’s really interesting to see how our trees grow and react to things over time. How one year they may lack vitality and then by the next year they have recovered and look strong and healthy as ever.
What would you change about the housing sector?
I’d like to see housing associations invest more into green spaces and improve the general aesthetic appearance of the places our customers live. Planting more plants and trees also helps to reduce our impact on the climate too!
If you could be prime minister for the day, what would you do?
I would use my background to focus on climate change issues and champion the planting of more trees, whilst putting in place a system to ensure they are planted are maintained so they can flourish. I read a statistic that up to 80% of newly planted trees along the HS2 rail route died after the drought last summer, which makes you wonder if a maintenance programme was in place. I strongly believe that infrastructural developments can exist alongside nature, without being so destructive.