Rob Bodenstaff

Rob Bodenstaff

This session is about identifying where the real investment is when it comes to managing trees in an ‘asset management’ portfolio. About treating trees as part of an asset inventory in much the same way we consider power and water supply, communication infrastructure, drains, roads, footpaths buildings and structures, as assets  …… Recognising also that at many points within our common city spaces, part of a tree will interface with these other assets in some way.

We all know that trees are one of the most cost-effective and essential civil infrastructure components available to help sustain healthy communities and cities. Their above ground parts provide us with many attributes that have been well recorded in TREENET Symposiums.

Their below ground parts also provide us with proven attributes in the management of stormwater and reduced spending on conventional drainage infrastructure. The space that tree roots occupy provides connectivity with soil and water resources that form an integral part of the urban ecology, while reducing heat-related illness and morbidity and a raft of benefits that we are continuing to research and bring to TREENET‘s library of resources.

We also know that trees are relatively inexpensive to install and establish, and returns on investment in trees can be massive, but many investments fail to deliver.

Achieving good return on investment in trees requires more than expertise and planning. Success in this regard requires a paradigm shift in what it is that we think we are investing in and why we would consider change.

Unlike other assets, trees are living assets. They grow and change in size and stature above and below ground. Without applying the right knowledge at the right time – well before the trees are planted – tree failures will continue. Resulting in asset management budgets continuing to be robbed of their real value, ratepayers will continue to be duped and professions whose role it is to the manage their assets, continue to be confused about what is ‘investment’ in trees and how to measure ‘return on investment’.

This paper summarises some of the costs of investing in trees, the returns that communities can realise from wise investment, and how future investment should be targeted to grow community wealth.

The challenge for our asset managers will be to re-assess how they can progressively re-purpose funds within their existing budgets.

The challenge for Arboricultural technicians and Urban Foresters will be in securing the right expertise at the right time, throughout the planning, establishment, growth and maturity stages of the tree’s asset life cycle……

This session will demonstrate why going for this kind of change is a ‘NO BRAINER’ in maximising returns.

Presentation by Dr Tim Johnson and Rob Bodenstaff 

Rob Bodenstaff

Rob has spent the past 30 years pursuing the better management and utilisation of trees in Western Australia’s diverse urban environs.

Seeking and influencing others to engage in achieving better outcomes for urban trees, has been the driver for him. This has led to the creation of multi-disciplined expertise in arboricultural consultancy, tree canopy management, root zone management, veteran and icon tree management and civic tree farming, as well as being a recognised leader in mature tree transplanting in Australia and Internationally.

Rob’s firsthand experience in developing world leading tree transplanting techniques for mature trees within urban precincts, has bought to light many aspects of our native tree root systems that challenge common literature on the subject and also challenges the way we often manage tree roots in Western Australia’s endemic sands and soils.

His experience and the ongoing investigations, trials, projects and research is helping us discover better ways to successfully engineer trees into the unique built urban environment within Perth’s coastal sands and broader regions; and that may well have application elsewhere.