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After a long period of gestation, the Association is launching its new Registered Consultant application process. All new applications from 1 March 2021 will use the new system.

The Arboricultural Association Registered Consultant (AARC) Scheme has been running since the mid-1970s and operates nationwide. Members of the scheme have demonstrated attainment of a recognised standard of knowledge, experience and the ability to practise as an arboricultural consultant in the most complex and demanding situations.

The aim of the scheme is to advance excellence in the field of arboricultural consultancy and it is promoted by the Association as establishing the highest level of attainment available within the UK. The award of AARC status (which applies to an individual, not an organisation or company) is made following a rigorous assessment process.

Over the years, the Association heard concerns from potential applicants that the specific range of subject areas required to complete the application process effectively excluded them from applying. Since we began the ‘Aspiring Registered Consultant’ workshops we have been exploring this issue in detail and recognise that as the role of the arboricultural consultant has developed over recent decades, there is now far more specialism in the sector than when the AARC scheme was first introduced. As a result, some consultants and other professionals, e.g. local authority arboricultural officers, who are working at the top level in their profession have been unable to present the full range of reports that the existing application process required.

The Association’s Professional Committee tasked its Consultants’ Working Group (CWG) with the challenge of designing a revised application process that maintained the same high standard but allowed the breadth of specialisms in the sector to be recognised equally. As well as delivering on this with a new approach to the choice of report subject areas, the CWG also considered other aspects of the scheme’s application process from an applicant’s perspective, including the timing of applications and the duration of the entire process.

The recommendations from the CWG were considered by Professional Committee and the proposed revisions were presented to the existing Registered Consultants for their contributions at their annual ‘Standards and Development Day’ in June. With the guidance offered and specific expertise on assessment terminology and methodology incorporated, the revised application procedure was presented back to Professional Committee in October.

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