AFTER two years, the UK’s longest running, internationally recognised arboriculture conference is back with a new venue and one of the most exciting programmes of speakers in its history. 

The title of the 55th National Amenity Arboriculture Conference is ‘What is a tree?’ and it will explore the tree’s significance, both as part of a wider ecosystem and as an ecosystem in its own right. For too long, urban and amenity trees were often viewed as existing in isolation – each an individual tree, perceived and managed as an individual unit. Over time we have come to appreciate that this is not the case.

The Arboricultural Association has curated a world-class line-up of 21 speakers from around the globe, who will explore this fundamental question through a wide range of sessions, presenting groundbreaking innovations and research that will change thinking.

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New for this year is a series of special interactive workshop sessions, led by the speakers, to bring delegates closer to the themes at the heart of the conference. These sessions, taking place each afternoon, will offer a refreshing change of pace to traditional conference formats and themes covered will include: producing a tree strategy, tree ecology, green equity, tree protection around the world, tree morphology and tree-planting targets.

For the first time, the Sunday conference field trip takes the form of one of the most popular series of events in recent years, the ‘Thinking Arbs Day’ with Ted Green. The spectacular Calke Abbey National Trust Estate provides the perfect setting for an exciting day of tree discussion with the living legend himself.

After a cancelled event in 2020 and the first online conference in 2021, the AA will be celebrating the return to an in-person conference with plenty of social events and opportunities to catch up with old friends and colleagues, and make new connections.

Among the dozens of highly anticipated speakers will be Texas-based arboricultural consultant Mark Bays, who will bring what promises to be both a moving and enlightening presentation on the ‘Survivor Tree’. The Native American elm stands at the highest point on the grounds of the Oklahoma City National Memorial, which honours the victims of the senseless act of violence that struck at the heart of the city 25 years ago.

The elm has come to represent hope and healing and stands strong as a symbol for all to reflect upon, remembering those lives lost to the bombing and honouring their memories. Mark and others worked closely with the designers, engineers and construction crews in all aspects of the construction relating to the Survivor Tree and many innovative designs were considered and implemented.

He said: “I have worked on many construction projects but the feeling here was different. Everybody knew it was much more than any one of us and everyone worked together in a spirit of dignity and respect.”

The special story of the recovery of the Survivor Tree, and its ongoing care that began in 1996, is one of many sessions at the conference that will leave a lasting lesson and perhaps change the definition of what a tree can mean to us.

The event will be held on 4–7 September at Loughborough University, Leicestershire.

The full conference programme can be viewed and places booked at