UKTC Archive

Re: Appraisal of Trees for Cultural Values

Subject: Re: Appraisal of Trees for Cultural Values
From: Russ Carlson
Date: Nov 14 2021 21:44:02
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Hi, Michael.

I'll offer my thoughts, but they may not apply to what you are looking
for, being as you asked on UKTC.

I've done a few appraisals dealing with historical and cultural
significance, but these were under the CTLA methodologies. As I see it,
it doesn't matter which system you choose, the problems are similar. We
are trying to assign a rather arbitrary monetary amount to a living
organism. I say arbitrary because because there are few, if any, actual
standards that can consistently and reasonably make the connection
between the benefits received and some amount of money. How much is a
canine lifetime companion worth? How much is a child worth? A father or
mother? We are dealing with things that cannot be directly bought or
sold, although with trees we are closer to that and often use a
comparison method as representative.

Here's the problem when using any cost measure of valuation: We can start
with an estimate of replacement/restoration cost, however that might be
determined. Usually that will give us a maximum for the cost. We then
depreciate that amount for known deficiencies, detriments, impairments,
etc. How that depreciation is applied is a matter of method and protocol,
whether as direct monetary amounts (reduce 'value' by £$xx for a weak
crotch, £$yy for trunk cavity....), or as percentages (as in CTLA) or
some other technique. So we start with a maximum cost amount
(representing 100%), then depreciate to reduce that amount to account for
known deficiencies.

But here's the problem: None of this accounts for the intangible benefits
that people derive in some cases. These are the things like historic and
cultural desirability, but can also include the more personal things
(remember poor Fido from above– your pets holds no special value to me,
but a whole lot to you). While known deficiencies can be reduced by some
amount from 100% to 0% (whether you calculate as the amount to reduce by
or the residual after depreciation), the amount of these intangible
benefits are open-ended. We don't subtract from the maximum amount, we
add to it to account for the special benefits and attributes. Instead of
working within a finite set of boundaries (0 to 100%), we are now dealing
with a range that has no limit. And the amounts are entirely subjective.*

So the quandary is there: how much is enough? How much is too much? And
is it the place of the all-knowing arborist to make that decision? (I say
it is not.) In cases of this type, I do what research I can, but posit
the final decision back to the decider/trier of fact for that final
amount. In several such cases, I have suggested some amount that seems
reasonable (to me) based on similar cases that have settled or been
decided. Often I represent it as a multiplier of the appraised value I
present. US state laws often allow double or treble damages in tort
cases, so that might be an option. Other cases might use different
measures. But ALWAYS present this as an additional amount to be added or
multiplied, not as part of the appraised amount. And make it clear that
you do not necessarily endorse it, that it is only a suggestion.

* The only case where the additive amounts might not be subjective is if
you can find some comparative situation. And that might have been
entirely subjective in itself.

Russ Carlson, RCA, BCMA
ASCA Registered Consulting Arborist #354
ISA Board Certified Master Arborist PD-0008B
ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification

Tree Tech Consulting
114 Grand Canyon Court
Bear, DE 19701
302.832.1911 phone

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On 11/14/21 1:37 PM, Michael Richardson wrote:

  I am wondering if anybody has experience or references for appraising trees
  that have a cultural significance.
  I know of increasing the value within the CAVAT system but this does not
  provide me with the detail of how and why to increase the value.
  Any help is appreciated.
  Michael Richardson B.Sc.F., BCMA
  Ontario MTCU Qualified Arborist
  Richardson Tree Care

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