"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Mark Hartley and the team at the Arborist Network for all the help we have had in our attempts to retain the Laman Street trees in Newcastle.
Mr Hartley has set such a wonderful example: an arborist who delivers a service that is prompt, intelligent, honourable and reliable. His dedication to education, accountability and transparency have been outstanding.
When Mr Hartley was recommended to our group, our local Council had already voted to remove an avenue of 80 year old Hill's figs. Many (I like to think most) people in the community were appalled by this decision, especially since they had withstood a major, very destructive storm in 2007.
We had made attempts early in the campaign to find an arborist to assess the trees, without success, and when Mr Hartley first looked at the street, 14 Hill's figs were effectively doomed. This was in spite of the widespread belief in Newcastle that the trees were healthy and had decades left in them.
We've been impressed throughout our whole association with him that he has been impossible to intimidate. Contrary opinions on tree health or risk assessment have informed his approach to the issue but have not fazed him. He has always appeared to examine these with an open mind.
He has been available to explain his findings to our group and to the media as often as necessary and in plain language that non-experts can easily understand. He has dealt with controversy without flinching and has withstood impressively the unwarranted personal criticism that comes with disagreeing with politicians and bureaucrats. While we benefited greatly from his expertise, I suspect the experience of examining this issue has been quite negative for Mr Hartley, given the controversy generated by those who wanted to remove the trees. In spite of this he has not hesitated at any time to complete the work he set out to do.
Without the tree assessment and peer review he carried out for us, the Laman Street fig trees would have been removed many months ago.
I really cannot thank the Arborist Network enough and believe we were very fortunate to have an expert with Mr Hartley's background to help us."
Caity Raschke, Newcastle - Several reports