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Established in 2009, ArborCarbon is wholeheartedly committed to providing expert services in vegetation monitoring and management for urban forests and greenspace, natural forests, horticulture and agriculture. Managing Director Dr Paul Barber and his partner began consulting on the diagnoses of disorders in trees, and gradually grew the business from there. “It was a very small business for several years after its initiation,” he says. “In the last 12 to 18 months, we’ve had another director come on board who has a strong background in business management, and we’ve also had several employees come on as well. Initially, our work started locally in Perth through an environmental, award-winning golf course – our very first client – and then expanded across all parts of WA and across Australia. We also do quite a bit of work outside Australia throughout the Asia Pacific region, and we’ve done some work in the U.S. and Middle East as well”

ArborCarbon operates within three main areas: diagnoses of health disorders, assessment and monitoring of ongoing health and growth, and providing management advice to clients on where improvements are required; they use a combination of remote sensing and field-based methods to clarify this information and provide the necessary services where they are needed. “The scale varies widely from applying systemic treatments to individual trees in residential areas, to advising national governments on how to manage diseases in forests.”

We have four core values: partnership, innovation, expertise and sustainability. So, everything we do must have a sustainability focus. We’ll look at each project and assess it, and if it doesn’t align well with our company and what we do, then we will turn those projects away. Everything we do in our company and our service we provide has a sustainable outcome. We’re also very mindful of our carbon footprint. For example, we’ve just moved into a new office space in an urban farm close to the Perth CBD, Perth City Farm, and we’ve actually decked out our office space in almost 100 percent recycled materials. We’ve very much moved to a paperless operation, so we do everything on computers and tablets; it’s a digital approach.”

Paul and the other founding director have access to a “unique suite of expertise” exclusive to very few within the industry; being amongst only a handful of forest pathologists in Australia, they are able to provide a more solid scientific approach towards their craft, which they feel is a great advantage. “Everything that we do in our projects is backed by robust science,” he says. “The directors have a strong track record in science and business management, and are still publishing a lot in international peer review journals. We’re very critical in our thinking on each project, and make sure it has a scientific approach. So, it’s always robust and also very innovative. We’ve got a lot of connections with overseas companies with innovative technology, and we’re always looking outside the square in terms of developing new methods and approaches to overcome different issues.”

ArborCarbon is also a very active supporter of the 202020 Vision initiative and its effort to expand green space within urban environments. According to Paul, a larger commitment to this cause will not only improve the environment, but also the overall health and well-being of people. “We have a heavy presence and focus on the urban forest and sustainable management of urban trees and vegetation,” he says. “We’re collecting lots of big data, and this data is showing canopy cover going backwards in many councils. So, we’re very supportive of anything that’s going to enable or help local government, property developers and other people who manage urban green spaces to help them maintain the balance. We have strong arboricultural expertise so we increasingly are asked to provide advice on growing, selecting and planting quality trees in new developments, and ways to protect existing trees within development sites. We also have a very strong interest in the connection between green space, trees, and human health, and we see that green space is critical for that. We see that 202020 is aligned with this approach, so we are strong supporters. We believe it’s not only important for the vegetation and trees, but for the quality of life and well-being of people living in cities.”

The company also recognises the importance of strong industry relationships, especially in regards to partners, staff and clients. Paul and his management team work hard to ensure that all employees are able to maintain solid work-life balance so that, in turn, they can provide the best result for ArborCarbon and its clients. “It’s really about trust and integrity, so we have a big focus on delivery to promise he says. “We’re more than happy to go over and above to make sure that the job’s done properly, and the clients are very happy with the service we provide. We’re great believers that it will carry us forward in terms of our business being sustainable and being here for a long time. We have a lot of repeat business, so we really value those relationships; it’s very important.”

Operating across a range of industries, Paul sees several outlying concerns within the near future, especially in regards to maintain balance between growing economies and protection of the environment; however, he believes that further technological development may serve as a saving grace in that regard. “There’s obviously been challenges over the years in the resources industry” he says. “We were working closely with some very forward thinking companies. With declines in budgets, their willingness to spend money on innovative or very robust approaches to environmental management had declined somewhat; In a very price driven market, we will not always be the cheapest however we think we will offer the best value. This has presented challenges while some clients have simply looked for the cheapest option without looking at the overall value. I believe this will change as companies are forced by public pressure to protect the environment whilst utilising the resource.

I see tremendous opportunity in the agriculture space. Food security is a massive issue, so there’s some very exciting technology coming on board, and we’re in that space with remote sensing, drones, hyperspectral cameras and disruptive technologies. There’s a lot of opportunity to improve the sustainability of the current approach, and I think there are more challenges ahead in regards to jobs and the economy. Certainly, there are a lot of small and medium-sized businesses hurting at the moment, so it’s a challenge for them to stay afloat, to be able to employ people, and engage them at a time when automation and technology is replacing demand for manual labour. We see that as an opportunity to innovate ourselves, grow and employ people within our company. There are challenges, but we must continue to innovate as it is a core value of ours. In any industry at the moment, it’s also about your carbon footprint and contribution to climate change. So, there’s major challenges afoot in that space and again it is inherent in what we do as a company and has been since its inception in 2009”

Aside from his work with ArborCarbon, Paul is also committed to assisting students not only at Murdoch University as an Adjunct Associate Professor, but throughout Asia as well in places like Vietnam, Indonesia and Hong Kong. He is also Vice-President of the not-for-profit Men of the Trees WA who have been responsible for the planting of milliions of trees across the landscape in WA since the 1970s. Going forward, he hopes to be able to continue providing that service and initiating new research projects, while also promoting the growth of the company and its newer employees; he is also very invested in ensuring the happiness and success of his own family and teenage children. “We’re in this growth phase in our company at the moment employing people, and employing good people,” he says. “For me it’s about ensuring that those people are engaged in the company, share our values, we’re providing an environment for them that they find stimulating, and they love to come to work. At the end of this year, I’d love to see these people flourishing and mentoring others and still with us in several years to come, if not longer. So, I’d like to take them on that journey with me as well, and share my vision and the vision of the directors. Really, it’s all about work-life balance and ensuring that everyone is happy at home and at work and achieving success; it’s most important.”

Arbor Carbon
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