Dr. Alex Shigo, often referred to as the father of modern Aboriculture, died on Oct. 6, 2006, at his home in Barrington, New Hampshire, U.S. Shigo, a founding member of the Utility Arborist Association (UAA), spent the greater part of his adult life studying the pathology of trees. From 1959 to 1985, he worked for the U.S. Forestry Service, where his efforts served to improve the health of trees and, in turn, the life of the entire surrounding ecosystem. Shigo knew the very future of arboriculture as a profession lay in maintaining the overall health of the environment, and that trees were at the very center.
In an interview with Randall Miller, system forester for MidAmerican-PacifiCorp, Shigo explained, “Everybody wants recipes. People are taught design, but not biology. We need a new core science where nursery people, tree people and foresters will have the core information that will relate to the entire system, not only to one plant or the design of that plant.”
Shigo is credited with hundreds of publications and has written the most comprehensive books available on the subject of tree care. He also spent a great deal of time educating energy providers on the proper care and viable perpetuation of their urban forests. He worked directly with utility vegetation management groups to show how trees should be properly topped and trimmed, and he made himself available on a regular basis to the UAA providing a wellspring of information utility foresters could take into the field.
“I'm trying to get people who work with trees to understand them,” states Shigo in his biography. Shigo's pocket guide “Pruning Trees Near Electric Utility Lines” is an essential part of the tool kit for practically all foresters.
Shigo studied tree physiology researching the proper treatment for saving trees after both planned and unplanned branch removal.
Among his scientific accomplishments are descriptions of the compartmentalization of decay in trees and branch attachment, where he discovered that cutting a branch at the collar and leaving it untreated with any type of chemical allows the tree surfaces to close over naturally.