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Can Volunteers Learn to Prune Trees?

Abstract
Volunteer pruning programs are becoming an important tool in helping municipal arborists manage the urban forest. To find if volunteers can learn to prune trees well, the ability of volunteers to prune small trees after receiving training was assessed in three different ways, a written exam, a pruning prescription assessment, and a pruning cut assessment. Volunteers were assigned to either an indoor, lecture-based training or an outdoor, hands-on training session. After the training volunteers were asked to complete a written exam to gauge their understanding of the curriculum. Volunteers were then asked to perform a pruning prescription on small street trees indicating where they would prune to remove structural issues and branches growing into signs and walkways. Finally, volunteers were asked to make a removal cut and reduction cut using hand pruners. Volunteers who received indoor training performed significantly better on the written exam. Both training groups performed well on the pruning prescription assessment. At each location, volunteers who received the outdoor training scored significantly higher than the indoor group on their pruning prescription. The type of training received did not affect a volunteer’s ability to make good pruning cuts. These results indicate that, given proper training, volunteers can learn to prune small trees to the satisfaction of an arborist.
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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
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