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Meet the team – Matt Searle, Principal Arboricultural Planning Consultant

Matt Searle

Hi Matt. We know that you’re very busy so thank you for taking the time to do our ‘get to know the team’ interview.

How long have you been working for Treework Environmental Practice?

I have been working for Treework for 6 years.  I lead our growing planning & development support team as Principal Arboricultural & Planning Consultant, advising our clients on trees in relation to planning and construction and urban regeneration projects.

What does your role entail? 

As a Principal Consultant, my role is varied.  I’m responsible for managing planning and development, tree risk and veteran tree projects, as well as tree related insurance claims to expert witness standard. As a chartered Town Planner and Arboriculturist, I particularly enjoy helping our clients to navigate their way through the planning system.  This is an area that is currently experiencing many changes, particularly at the national level, with the Planning White Paper and England’s Tree Strategy recently released for consultation.

What do you enjoy most about the role and your work at Treework Environmental Practice?

The variety! No two days are the same. I love the mix of working outdoors and at home and meeting a wide range of people from different professional disciplines. I feel privileged to be working with a team of industry thought leaders and experts. It means I am always learning and being challenged.

How do you see the role of the arboricultural consultant changing in the future?

I think Arboriculture is still a relatively new profession and has much room to improve, and more effectively lobby policy makers and engage with everyone to meet the huge challenges that we all face. There is no doubt that Climate Change threats are increasingly focusing policy and decision makers attention on trees and the vital role in mitigation that they provide. This will only intensify over time. The arboricultural consultant will find themself more and more engaged in working with their clients to protect and increase tree canopy cover and better understand the financial value associated with the many ecosystem services that trees provide.

Promoting and persuading people of the value of trees and the many benefits they provide drives me.  I am not complacent though. Even today it is a regular challenge to change opinions so that people see trees as a benefit rather than a burden.  This year’s pandemic, I think, has focused minds on just how important our local parks, and the trees within them, are for our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

We know that you are very busy as a Consultant with the Practice.  Are there any tips you can share with others, on how you remain focused and productive during these unprecedented times?

In common with most of my colleagues, I have worked from home and remotely since I started at Treework. You could say I have been self-isolating for the last 6 years! This operational model, coupled with the support of our colleagues and being equipped with a best practice work-anywhere kit has meant we’ve been very well placed to adapt quickly and nimbly to the changing and uncertain situation we’ve all experienced throughout the year.

Working from home has its challenges, particularly when trying to balance work and play. My daughters both started Sixth Form this year and because of the pandemic are currently working from home half the week. It has been interesting all working around the same table. I have invested in pneumatic-drill-quality ear defenders!

A key part of our remote working model is the recognition of the importance of meeting up together regularly in order to retain and enhance team cohesion. Sadly, the pandemic has meant we have been unable to do so. I have really missed our team meetings and, my liver aside, will certainly miss our Christmas get together in Bristol this year. Whilst we have weekly virtual meetings, it is clear that there really is no substitute for getting together.

I consider myself very fortunate that unlike other industries, our team and many in our sector have been able to continue working with our clients on many exciting projects, and we ’ve been busier than ever!

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