Tree Surgeon to Arborist

By Wendell Phillips ‘Phil’ Berwick,
Arborist / Abolitionist

I’ve been involved in tree work from when we were called tree surgeons, but beginning in the 1980s old French term of ‘Arborist’ took over. Englishman John Davey came to the U.S. in 1873, the son of a farm superintendent in England with an interest in planting trees and shrubs along the streets of Kent. He had a passion for developing various tree care techniques, and is credited with being the first to see arboriculture as a science, coining the phrase “tree surgeon,” initiating proper pruning practices, bracing and cabling methods and cavity filling. This last one is no longer done, but was high tech tree care at the time. I have ruined many a chain saw cutting chain on rebar and concrete from a cavity filling buried inside an olden tree. In 1917, a Bartlett Tree Care Arborist was among the first to tie into a tree with a rope for safety. Thus began the modern practice of tree climbing to allow arborists to prune or remove trees. Recall when we were kids, climbing without safety ropes?

 I began my profession in a city with large flexible, strong native American Elm trees, tying high up with my climbing line into branch crotches as thin but much stronger than my wrist. In the early 1990s, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) developed a credential known as a ‘Certified Arborist’ to create a more educated and knowledgeable body of arborists. As many a young man I’ve trained in the craft of tree work, none can shake a stick at a women’s cleanup of a tree removal or trimming site such as my daughters and wife did. Theresa, whom I fondly call ‘Tree’, came up with the name ‘Living Tree’ (Care) in a dream, and coined our motto; “We’re in the Business of Saving Trees”.

 I remove trees only for good reason. Dripping sap on a camper is not a good reason, nor is raking leaves. The threat to a foundation, failing toward a house or damaging sewer lines could be considered reason enough, and yet there are remedies even for these. By the same token a tree can look gorgeous and be ready to uproot. A ‘root crown inspection by a trained Arborist is well worth the time. Few of my tree clients experience storm damage, because of cabling and lightning protection. And thinning and crown reduction minimizes ‘wind sail’.

Wendell Phillips ‘Phil’ Berwick / Certified ISA Arborist / Abolitionist
Owner of Living Tree Care 314-568-8367 livingtree@earthlink.net
Founder of Freedomcry.life & Livingtreeinternational.org