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2016 ISA Annual International Conference & Trade Show, by Alan Moore

The 2016 ISA Annual International Conference & Trade Show was held August 13 - 17 in Fort Worth, Texas.  Overall, it was a good conference and yes, there are trees in Texas.  In fact, the conference was held at the Fort Worth Convention Center which is right next to the Fort Wort Water Gardens which has many trees in and around the park including baldcypress, Japanese maple and live oak.  Many other trees are planted and thriving along the streets and the City Forester welcomes all to enjoy the tree lined streets as much as she does.

The keynote speakers were two private arborists from the state of Washington who have capitalized on their skills to give back to their community by rescuing cats stuck in trees.  They encouraged the audience to find something in their work that they can do to give back to their community.  Not simply working to earn an income, but using opportunities at work to make your community better.

Following the keynote and a break on the trade show floor, concurrent educational sessions started.  There were a number of subjects covered, a variety of presentations made, and so many speakers.  Over the course of Monday and Tuesday there were 52 different presentations.  Being that I could only be in one place at a time, there were 11 different presentations I could attend over those two days.  Prior to the conference there were a few different workshops, “Branch Out Sessions” and even a local tour of diseased trees.  On the trade show floor there were a variety of presentations specifically for climbers.  All during the conference, there were various research posters on display anytime anyone wanted to look at them.  Wednesday’s educational sessions were just as varied as the previous days and included tracks for utility arborists, preparation for the Municipal Specialist exam, a local tour for commercial arborists, and research presentations from the Arboricultural Research and Education Academy.

What I learned from most of the sessions that I attended was that we need to pay attention to and learn from what we observe about trees.  Learn from others about what they have seen in the ways that trees grow.  Tree “decline disease” has a very specific meaning to communicate the result of multiple interacting and interchangeable factors.  Decline should not be used as a catch-all for symptoms for which the cause has not been determined.  Trichoderma, a fungus itself, is very good at controlling decay fungi in trees, but it is very specific and what works to control decay fungi in one situation may not work in another.  There is a difference between aging and senescence and we need to understand that when pruning mature trees.  When making species selections based on a tree’s drought tolerance, we need to understand if the tree is truly tolerant or just avoids drought.  Either way, soil condition plays a crucial role in the tree’s survival

I also learned about some new things coming and some old things that simply need to be reinforced.  Old things like preparing to respond to a natural disaster instead of reacting to it will make your urban forestry program stronger and better positioned to start the road to recovery.  New things, which you will probably hear more about, include an updated BMP for tree risk assessment available in 2017.  This update will also impact the Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) program so watch for more information from ISA about that.

The 2017 ISA Annual International Conference & Trade Show will be July 29th – August 2nd in Washington, D.C. (specifically it will be in National Harbor, MD).  Make plans to attend and hear about the latest in research and technology in arboriculture and urban forestry!  Keep an eye on ISA’s Web site</