Kew Guild Funding For The Royal Forestry Society Certificate In Arboriculture
By Jay Venn
Longer ago than I care to think (1986, in fact) I studied for and passed examinations for the theory part of the R.F.S. Certificate in Arboriculture. Quite a lot of people do this. The other requirement to gain the full certificate is to take eight practical tests, some of which are compulsory and some of which can be chosen by the candidate, from the N.P.T.C.’s standard tests for arboriculture/forestry craft certificates. This is the more difficult part of the exam, not only because the tests are thorough and some of them physically hard work, but because they need quite large amounts of physical resources to do them. For example, one of the compulsory tests — Chainsaw Operations — requires one to fell a number of trees of differing sizes to demonstrate competence with chainsaw use. There are two compulsory climbing tests, one to thin the crown of a tree with a bowsaw and one to use a chainsaw in the tree to dismantle it (fell in stages).
I was fortunate to have worked previously for the National Trust, who had allowed me to use trees in their woodlands for the felling and climbing tests and, as a certificated instructor myself, I was granted exemption from the Chainsaw Operations test. I had also taken a test unit in Machinery Operations so, when I came to Kew, I had four tests left to complete, two compulsory ones — one in planting hardy stock, and the second F.E.P.A. spray tests — and two optional ones, Winch Operations and Specialist Pruning.
When I came to Kew as a member of Diploma Course 30, I was able to take formal training for the F.E.P.A. Pesticide Application Tests and I applied to the Guild for funding to take these tests and to pay for the other outstanding modules. This came to £165, which the Guild awarded to me. Actually it came to more than that, because the F.E.P.A. tests had gone up in price, but it enabled me to go ahead and book the tests.
I took the Planting, Specialist Pruning and Winch Operations Tests in May 1995, all on one day and I am grateful to Roger Howard, Supervisor of the Tree Unit, for allowing me to use the Unit’s winches for one test and to Martin Staniforth, Supervisor of the Temperate Nursery, for providing me with bunches of whip trees to plant out in a simulation of forestry planting, and spare nursery stock of different sizes to move, plant and stake as required in the test. The specialist pruning test was mostly done as a simulation, as it was an inappropriate time of year for most formative pruning. I passed all three tests after an exhausting morning dashing about.
I took the F.E.P.A. Pesticide Application tests — the core module Unit 1 and Unit 6a, Use of Knapsack Sprayers — at Capel Manor Environmental Centre, in August 1995 and was happy to pass both of these units too.
This means that I have now completed all the practical tests required and I can add the letters `R.F.S. Cert.Arb.’ after my name and join the small, select band of people who have persevered through all the difficulties of organisation and expense to achieve this very worthwhile qualification. I am most grateful to the Kew Guild for the financial help they gave me to help make this possible.