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500th RFS Cert Arb presented
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Northern Ireland's Laurence Christie has become the 500th person to receive the much respected RFS Cert Arb - a Level 2 qualification which has been setting the standard for arborists for more than 40 years. 

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Greenleaf's Laurence Christie, left, presented with the 500th RFS Certificate in Arboriculture by RFS Northern Ireland Divisional Chairman James Hamilton Stubber at Montalto, Co Down

To successfully complete the qualification, each candidate must gain an ABC Level 2 Certificate in Arboriculture and a suite of eight NPTC or LANTRA practical certificates of competency.

RFS Future Foresters Officer Adam Todd says: "In achieving the RFS Cert Arb Laurence is demonstrating that he has both the required theoretical knowledge in arboriculture and is proficient in the practical skills needed to succeed and build his business. We congratulate Laurence on his achievement and his dedication to continuing learning and development.”

Laurence, a graduate of Myerscough College, began work in the tree care industry in 2002, gaining practical NPTC qualifications as an arborist over the years. In 2007 he established Greenleaf Professional Tree Care, providing arboricultural services throughout County Down and the Greater Belfast area.

He said: "I feel it is important as a professional arborist to be constantly improving my skill set and keeping up with the latest techniques and industry developments. By achieving the RFS Cert Arb, our customers can be confident in my practical skills and technical knowledge.

The RFS Cert Arb is part of a suite of qualifications offered by the RFS. Due to demand from the sector, the RFS has recently introduced a new equivalency route for candidates who may not have completed an ABC Award but have achieved alternative qualifications at Level 2 or above.

Adam notes: "We recognise that not all applicants will have completed an ABC award to fulfil the theory requirement of the RFS Certificate. For this reason, we are prepared to consider alternative theory qualifications on a case-by-case basis, so long as the relevant award is at Level 2/3, or above, and accredited by a recognised examination/qualifications awarding body."

The RFS is dedicated to wise woodland management and excellence in forestry education. RFS currently supports craft-level professional qualifications in Arboriculture, Forestry and Silviculture. Full details can be found here.