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RFS - Cert Arb (Level 2)


RFS - Certificate in Arboriculture (Level 2)

For more than 40 years the Royal Forestry Society’s Certificate in Arboriculture has set the standard for craftsman-level arborists. The RFS Certificate is widely recognised throughout the arboricultural industry as proof that the holder has both a good theoretical knowledge of arboriculture and is proficient in the practical skills needed to succeed.

The theoretical and the practical components of the Certificate are studied separately and a number of local and land-based colleges provide training.

To gain the full RFS Certificate candidates require the following:

  • (a) The ABC Level 2 Certificate in Arboriculture, to provide a sound theoretical background in the fundamental elements of arboriculture.

  • (b) A suite of 8 competence qualifications. Some are compulsory to meet health and safety requirements. Full details are here.


(a) ABC Level 2 Certificate in Arboriculture

This theory course is awarded through ABC Awards.

The theoretical components of the Certificate are covered in the ABC Level 2 ABC Certificate of Arboriculture. The subjects covered as part of this qualification are listed as 'units', below.

Learners must achieve all of the mandatory units and one of the optional units to complete their certificate.


Mandatory units:

  • The interaction of soil environments and woody plants
  • Woody plant physiology
  • The supply, planting and aftercare of woody plants
  • Principles of tree surgery operations
  • Tree inspections and statute and common law applied to trees


Optional units:

  • The principles of aerial tree surgery and ground-based arboricultural operations
  • Principles of woodlands, forestry and ecology
  • The principles of managing special trees
  • Principles of tree surgery equipment use and maintenance

Full details and requirements for submitting complete applications can be found 


Approved Training Centres

The ABC Level 2 Certificate in Arboriculture can be completed at any of the approved centres listed below, or other land-based colleges offering ABC Awards qualifications:  


  •  Capel Manor College
  •  Tel: 08456 122122
  •  Address: Capel Manor College, Bullsmoor Lane, Enfield, Middlesex EN1 4RQ
  •  Method: eLearning


  •  Coleg Cambria
  •  Tel: 01244 831531
  •  Address: Coleg Cambria – Deeside, Kelsterton Road Connah’s Quay Deeside, Flintshire, CH5 4BR
  •  Method: Part-time




  •  Merrist Wood College
  •  Tel: 01483 884000
  •  Address: Merrist Wood College, Worplesdon, Guildford, Surrey, GU3 3PE
  •  Method: Adult Learning / Part Time


  •  Moulton College
  •  Tel: 01604 491131
  •  Address: Moulton College, West Street, Moulton, Northamptonshire, NN3 7RR
  •  Method: Part Time evenings (Monday 7 -9)



  •  Plumpton College
  •  Contact: Tel - 01273892035 Email -
  •  Address: Plumpton College, Ditchling Road, Nr Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 3AE
  •  Method: Part Time evenings (Wednesday 7 -9)




(b) Practical Competence Qualifications

The practical competence tests are provided by NPTC and LANTRA. Full details of the tests are available click here.

Please note that Lantra Awards do not currently offer the full range of courses required. Please check the course codes carefully before undertaking your training and ensure the course you are completing is a Certificate of Competence. Details of the approved training centres where you can undertake Certificates of Competence can be found at the following links NPTC or LANTRA.


RFS Certificate - Application Procedure

Full details are available here.