Posts Tagged ‘tree assessment’


No plant appraisal assignment requires more skill, knowledge, training and combined horticulture knowledge than appraising a tree farm or plant nursery. And the deep end of the pool is eminent domain (especially if there is a partial Taking) and product liability. The former requiring the appraiser to make whole the client and the latter a hide and go seek format in data collection and evidence.

The plant (including trees) appraiser’s first obstacle is how to value a plant that has no value in the marketplace. Not 100% of plants are ready for sale in any given wholesale nursery at any given time. There are different stages of development that a plant must go through to become ready for market. The problem comes when the plant is at one end of the development scale or the other; either just a seedling or within a few months of maturity. And everything in between. The law has definitive rulings on just how to appraise such developmental stages of growth. And the plant expert must be able to testify as to the correct approach to each development stage of growth. This is a contact sport. Put in your mouth piece.

Further, the plant appraiser must be able to quantify and qualify the costs of producing each plant size; from soup to nuts, the math and knowledge of producing plants is formidable. And the subject nursery operation is never the same from grower to grower. The plant appraiser must be able to separate what is being claimed by the grower and the truth and facts. When people are scared they tend to state what they think the appraiser wants to hear. Many times the truth lies elsewhere. The plant appraiser must know where to find these facts so that just compensation may be established by the trier of fact.

The rate of turn-over in inventory must be established and published. An opinion of value must include how many times in a given time period a particular plant sells and the growing cycle renews. This cycle is necessary to establish values into perpetuity.

What maintenance practices are being employed is crucial to the opinion of value. The chemicals used and their set-back requirements by label instructions must be known. The methods of pest control, including weed control is crucial in the understanding of how the business is being professionally operated. Is there waste? Is there efficacy? And what of quality of the plant material, is that a factor in placing a value on a plant.

I’m not at all certain there exists more than a ½ dozen arborists in our nation that are truly qualified to appraise a plant/tree nursery. I know of one other than myself, and I’m still learning; so is the other person. My history includes 50 years of practice in the trade and a former nursery owner as well. As a professional I was fortunate enough to be trained in nursery appraisals by one of the nation’s foremost property rights attorneys. Over the decades I’ve had the good fortune to be trained by scores of other property rights attorneys. My collegiality are trained by other arborists. In a group of those trainers at a recent international conference I posed the simple question to them: just how many of you guys have defended your opinions of value in a court of law? How many depositions? Not one hand went up. Not one of the trainers had ever been to court or deposition. And these are the good professionals training other arborists how to appraise a nursery and trees and plants.

Caveat emptor is now gently offered advise to the fine and gifted attorneys who defend and prosecute those clients looking for just compensation in the valuation of trees and plants.

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Successful Tree Inventories Start With…

You have just acquired a large piece of land for your new development with trees as far as the eye can see; now what.  There are strict tree ordinances and you know that you are going to have to pay for those trees, money; lots of money.  You have decided to conduct a tree inventory to lower your mitigation costs but you are not sure where to start.  What will you need in order to conduct a successful tree inventory?  The answer to that question starts with a certified arborist experienced in tree inventories, knowledge of tree ordinances and finally, a tree survey showing the location of the trees, boundary limits and limits of improvements.  By utilizing a skilled professional the end result will be a successful tree inventory and money saved.

A significant amount of knowledge is required to conduct a professional tree inventory and save money in tree mitigation.  The arborist not only needs to know how to assess trees based on health and structure utilizing basic tree biology they will need to be able to identify pests, disease and nutritional deficiencies.  They have to be skilled in utilizing special equipment to take necessary measurements to determine tree mitigation.  The certified arborist should also have the skills necessary to identify negligence issues as they relate to hazardous trees in the after situation of construction.  Once the inventory is complete they should have the ability to write an affective report identifying trees to be removed and trees to retain as a viable element in the landscape in the after situation of construction.

Tree ordinances can be very convoluted with information pertaining to those trees that will have to be mitigated.   Included is information relating to size in determining at what size is a tree considered a tree that must be included on the survey and in the inventory.  Most importantly, this size information may identify at what size mitigation starts.  Ordinances also contain information relating to a trees current condition and how that information may affect your mitigation costs.  Finally, important information about protected trees and grand trees are included in tree ordinances.   A certified arborist’s knowledge of the local tree ordinance ensures that you are only mitigating for those trees necessary.

A tree survey in of itself does not provide enough specific information to determine tree mitigation costs.  The tree survey becomes the map in order to conduct the tree inventory and creates a tool for communication in the future.  The arborist utilizes the survey to ensure all trees are accounted for in the inventory and annotates the survey accordingly to accompany the report.  The survey also serves as a picture of the after situation by including the limits of improvements, therefore; making realistic decisions about tree removal and preservation easier and more effective.

A tree inventory conducted by a qualified person with the necessary knowledge and tools will produce permitted projects with lower mitigation costs.  The data collected can be utilized by all the members of the team to make important decisions pertaining to trees to create a sustainable landscape.



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How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

Soon the much anticipated Guide for Plant Appraisal, 10th Edition, will be on a newsstand near you. This much anticipated memorial to self-importance will revolutionize our approaches to placing values on trees and landscapes. Most of these approaches will be beyond our areas of expertise, providing the final addition reads like the draft reviewed by many of us. As it relates to spreading the wealth and improving the economy, most approaches to value will necessitate an arborist hiring, or at least working with, a qualified real estate appraiser. Whether this is good or bad remains to be seen. Certainly one thing is certain: placing a value on any vegetation will be a challenge for most tree and landscape appraisers.

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