News & Media

Floridians Can Do More to Trees with Arborist OK

A Fla. property rights law went into effect July 1. Among other things, it gives homeowners more rights to cut or trim trees if they get an arborist to approve.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A bill passed this year by the Florida Legislature, HB 1159, includes measures to protect and promote the rights of private property owners. In addition to requiring county property appraisers to publish a list of constitutionally protected property rights on their websites, it also allows property owners to trim or remove trees on their property without consequence as long as they have a letter from a certified arborist or landscape architect stating the tree is a danger. The law went into effect on July 1, 2019.

Under the new legislation, property owners must obtain documentation from an arborist “certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) or a Florida licensed landscape architect that the tree presents a danger to persons or property.”

The ISA credentialing program includes six certifications and one qualification:

  • ISA Board Certified Master Arborist
  • ISA Certified Arborist
  • ISA Certified Municipal Specialist
  • ISA Certified Utility Specialist
  • ISA Certified Tree Worker Climber Specialist
  • ISA Tree Worker Aerial Lift Specialist
  • ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification

Certifications and qualifications are voluntary credentials documenting a specific industry knowledge base, and they’re managed by a private credentialing body like ISA.

Credentials are not licenses – licenses are traditionally issued by governments.

The certification with the largest number of credential holders, the ISA Certified Arborist certification, is a credential that verifies an arborist’s fundamental knowledge across a broad range of arboricultural topics. There are currently 1,947 certified arborists in Florida. Certified arborists can also earn ISA Municipal Specialist and ISA Utility Specialist certifications to document their proficiency in either of those specific arboricultural fields.

The ISA Tree Worker Climber Specialist and Aerial Lift certifications are designed for arborists to show proficiency via climbing or using aerial lift devices to work safely and efficiently in tree canopies. The ISA Board Certified Master Arborist (BCMA) certification is the highest of certifications offered by ISA. There are currently 29 BCMAs in Florida.

The ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) is a qualification BCMAs and certified arborists can earn to document their advanced proficiency in the art and science of tree risk assessment, which is the subject of the new Florida law. There are currently 309 professional arborists who also hold the TRAQ credential in Florida.

ISA’s website allows visitors to search for an arborist in Florida or, if they’ve already found one, verify their credentials.

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