- Australian tree professionals fall into five attitude groups, which vary in location, occupation and type of employment, but not gender.
- Urban forest planners/strategists value trees as green infrastructure while on-ground arborists have a more emotional attachment to trees.
- Tree professionals recognise that different values and attitudes can cause social conflicts based on tree type, size and abundance.
- Tree professionals see various ways of resolving these conflicts, but differ in their opinions on the best ways to maintain urban tree cover.
Tree professionals are responsible for management of the urban forest. It is important to understand how they perceive trees and conflicts about trees. Information gained from semistructured interviews with tree professionals in eastern Australian cities was treated as qualitative (0/1) variables to derive a repeatable classification. The strongest differences between these groups were between a group dominated by urban planners and strategists and a group dominated by private arborists. The urban forest planners and strategists regarded trees as green infrastructure. The onground tree managers were more emotionally engaged with trees, similar to the residents reported in a previous study. The professionals had strong opinions about the public, believing that they overestimated risk from trees. Four types of conflict about trees were evident: between those who see trees as cost-effective machines for achieving urban goals and those in love with them; between those who had ideological attachments to types of trees; between those scared of trees and those sanguine about their risk; and, between adjacent land owners. Interviewees suggested that the first type of conflict could be avoided by appropriate selection of trees, the second mitigated by consultative processes, the third by education and the fourth by arboricultural advice and legal means. Most tree professionals felt that there was room for improvement in tree management in cities, but they disagreed on the effectiveness of different options for tree conservation, indicating that the effectiveness of the variety of mechanisms used to enhance tree coverage in Australian cities needs to be determined.