In this series of articles, we will be sharing exclusive coverage from all aspects of the ARB Show 2023. 

AT the ARB Show, you'd expect to see woodchippers, chainsaws and even stump grinders. But what about a decay-sniffing dog? Step forward Sika.

Believed to be the only working dog in European arboriculture, the border collie has been trained by her owner - Ivan Button - to identify pathogens such as Kretzschmaria deusta, meripilus giganteus and fistulina hepatica, many of which can be invisible to the human eye.

And she proved to be one of the stars of the ARB Show, with the Forestry Commission and the Arboricultural Association among those now keen to find out more.

Forestry Journal:

For Ivan, a tree inspector by trade, Sika is proof that there is plenty of potential for decay-detecting dogs to play a key role in the future of arboriculture.

The managing director of Crown Tree Consultancy said: “Everyone who has come up to our stall has thought: ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ Why don’t we use dogs to help us detect tree decay or biosecurity at the border?

“Detector dogs can detect anything you train them to detect. There is no reason they shouldn’t be detecting tree decay.

“She can tell me all year round if that tree is infected. She obviously can’t write the tree report or tell if it’s dangerous. But she is a tool that tells me if I need to investigate a tree and on which side.”

@forestryjournal Wait for the ARB Show's cutest exhitor at the end 🐶 #ARBShow #arb #arborist #tree #treecare #arblife #woods #chipper #chainsaw #woodchipper#fyp #dogsoftiktok #dog ♬ original sound - Forestry Journal

Watch Sika in action on our TikTok

It is believed the only other detector dog working in tree care is in Taiwan, while some research was conducted in Sweden in the 1960s.

“I use her in specific circumstances,” Ivan, who trained Sika on his own, said. “If I have an old beech, for example, and it looks healthy enough, I just want her opinion.

“There is a lot of potential. I am not suggesting it is straightforward and easy, more research is needed.”

Keep an eye across our channels for the full version of this interview and more in-depth coverage from arb's biggest event.