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What Happens During a Tree Survey?


Trees offer several benefits ranging from boosting the value of a property and maintaining a balanced ecosystem to helping the environment. Trees are undoubtedly aesthetically pleasing, and many hold historical significance, especially those that have been around for decades.

Removing a tree can negatively affect the ecosystem. For example, some trees serve as homes for animal species. If you cut them down, then they will lose their habitat. Not only that, trees help prevent flooding. Cutting them down means the area will be more prone to it.

Trees also help improve the quality of the air through the production of oxygen and the absorption of carbon dioxide. If you remove a tree, it’ll also affect the process of photosynthesis that plants go through in your area.

Now, if you’re planning to develop a certain property, the trees within the area may be affected. You need to have a tree survey to help you decide how to proceed.

Understanding the process involved in a tree survey

A qualified and experienced arboriculturist should perform the tree survey. The first step is what is referred to as the stage one survey or the BS5837 tree survey. The potential effect of new construction on trees and the environment needs to be assessed.

A BS5837 tree survey is a British Standard survey involving performing the relevant checks. It is a must for any design work, demolition, or construction job that could potentially put trees at risk.

The arboriculturist will ask you some questions before the tree survey begins. The said inquiries will be about the development, such as your plans with the area and the other details on how you plan to proceed with the site development.

You also need to provide a site plan. Once all details have been provided, the arboriculturist will perform the tree survey.

What is the purpose of a tree survey?

Through the BS5837 survey, you and the local planning authority would learn the practical constraints to the land and the development. The survey is performed using professional equipment that allows the experts to gather specific data, such as the condition of the trees and what species they belong to.

What is a BS5837 retention category?

All trees within and near your site will fall under the retention category. Under this category, you’ll receive crucial information from the tree survey. There are four categories, A, B, C, and U.

Category A is where the ones with the highest classification fall. The trees that are added to this category are in good health. They are also prominent and possess essential qualities like adding cultural values to the site. Trees under category A are expected to offer up contributions for more than forty years. You will be allowed to do any work below or above ground within a certain distance of these trees unless necessary.

Category B is similar to Category A but only has an expected contribution of about 20 years. The local authorities would like the trees under this category to be preserved. But if they need to be removed, you have to plant another one to replace them.

Category C is where trees that are in poor condition fall under. They’re not a risk for planning and only have about ten years of contribution. Despite their condition, the local authorities may still require you to plant a new one to replace the tree you wish to remove.

Category U, the final category, is where dying or dead trees fall under. They pose a safety risk and have less than ten years of contribution. They have to be removed regardless of whether they interfere or not with your development or the site in question.

©Treework Environmental Practice


A Thorough Guide to Trees and the Law in the UK



Concerning tree law in the UK, several critical factors exist to consider. The following guide provides more information on some of these essential factors.

Dangerous trees
In almost all cases, the one responsible for trees' safety is the landowner where the trees in question grow. There are some exceptions, such as when a rental agreement puts the tenant in charge of tree management. In all other cases, the tree manager has a duty of care to provide care such that their neighbours don't experience any problems. A tree owner also has the duty under the Occupiers Liability Acts to take proactive steps in ensuring visitors on the land are safe. This means that if a tree falls, the owner is liable. If it is proven that the owner has been negligent, such as allowing tree damage to corrupt the tree, then they can face the law. To avoid this, tree owners should always look to inspect their trees with the aid of arboriculturists.

Encroaching roots and overhanging trees
In general, the 'common law' makes provisions for pruning branches and roots that go over the boundary between properties even without consent from the owner. However, any works undertaken should be meticulous not to damage the tree because such acts are liable. It is always best to discuss matters with the tree owner before taking action. Consulting an arboriculturist, in this case, is always a good idea. If overhanging branches or encroaching roots have caused damage to a property, the insurer will approach the owner to decrease the issue and arrange repairs.

Tree protection
There are a few ways for trees to be protected in the UK.
Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) – Local Councils, within their role as Local Planning Authority, administer TPOs. Their goal is to protect trees that add amenity value to the area. A TPO means it is an offence to top, lop, uproot or cut down a tree under protection without the local planning authority's consent. Hedges, bushes and shrubs cannot fall under a TPO, but it can be made for anything from a specific tree to an entire woodland. Anyone wishing to work on trees under a TPO should fill out an application form and send it to their local planning authority.

Conservation areas

parties that wish to do any work on conservation areas, need to send out six weeks prior notice via email, letter or the official form with a detailed explanation of the proposed results. The local planning authority can issue a Tree Preservation Order during that time.

Restrictive covenants

Essentially a promise between two parties, such as the buyer and seller of a property/land, to not do certain things to the area. It is binding to the land and not an individual owner, meaning it is a place even if the current owner sells the property to another owner.

Felling licenses
Felling a tree in a garden is possible, even without a felling license. However, for a tree outside a garden, applying to the Forestry Commission for a felling license is always recommended. This is regardless of whether a TPO covers the tree in question.

© Treework Environmental Practice

What is a Tree Preservation Order and How to Appeal Against It?



Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) are issued by local authorities to protect the countryside. They extend over individual trees of high amenity value or entire woodlands. 

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, local planning authorities create Tree Preservation Orders. Whether they cover individual trees, groups of trees or woodlands, TPOs protect the trees that they cover from removal, improper pruning or any sort of action against them. Any action that would result in significant loss of amenity provided by the trees is considered to be against the law. Authorities usually exercise their judgement when they make TPO because ‘amenity’ is not defined in the law. The general purpose of a TPO is to protect woodlands and specific trees the removal of which will impact the community and the environment in a notable negative way. Before the local authority comes up with a TPO, they first ensure the public will benefit from the presence of trees/woodlands in question. 

Once a TPO is out, there it is possible to apply for the removal/pruning of protected trees. 

Applying for doing physical work on a protected tree 

Before you do any sort of work on protected trees, you must obtain permission from the local authority. It takes about 8 weeks from the date you submit the form called ‘Formal application to carry out works to protect trees. You will have to include a detailed description of the proposed work, in addition to a map of the trees. It is important to mention that arboricultural consultants can act as agents in applying to performing a tree survey. They can also advise you on the likely works that will be allowed. 

If the local authority decides not to grant permission for works, then you can take your appeal to the Secretary of state. It is important to understand that you need to have very reasonable grounds for appeal and you will most likely require agents to act on your behalf. Typically, arboricultural consultants will be of great help in the matter. They can launch a formal appeal, to give you the best chances of success. The allowed period for appeal is 28 days. 

TPO objection 

In regards to the provisional TPO, local authorities need to consider all representations made about it. What this means is that you will have some time to place some arguments against the TPO, before it comes to pass. Once again, you can work with arboricultural consultants to advise you. They know just what procedures the local authority needs to follow and the guidelines laid down by the higher authorities for confirming and revoking a TPO. In other words, the consultancy will know whether the local planning authority has not followed the exact procedures and guidelines, and they will then represent you with the objection. 

Challenging a TPO at the high court 

When a TPO is confirmed, there is no longer the option to appeal to the Secretary of State. Yet, there is a chance to apply to the High Court to quash the order. Such actions typically call the legality of the order into question. 

© Treework Environmental Practice


What are the Different Types of Tree Surveys?


When it comes to trees on public and private properties, owners or developers of said properties need to always ensure that the trees are in good condition and they don’t pose a risk. They have a legal duty to do so, especially in the case of a public area, like a public garden or park. Landowners need to consult with arborists and conduct tree surveys to assess the condition of the trees. 

Tree surveys are different, based on what goal they want to achieve and what sort of information they provide. Consulting with experts on the matter is very important because they offer some guidance on the matter. Here are a few of the different types of surveys that are available: 

  • Planning permission and report – for individuals and companies submitting their planning applications, they are going to need a BS5837 survey. This is a British Standard that specifies the required information to be collected and included within the end report. That is how developers get their consent, as long as the survey points indicate a low negative impact on the trees and no protected trees are in the area. The BS5837 surveys require an Arboricultural Method Statement and Arboricultural Impact Assessment. The former is all about assessing the need for pruning, protective fencing, how to handle materials around trees, compaction of soil and heavy machinery moving around the tree. There might also be a need for an ecological survey, based on what the local authority requires and what the specific project is all about. 

  • Tree constraints plan – this one consists of a CAD drawing, which showcases the location of every individual tree. It looks at things like crown spread, root protection and shade. The BS5837 standard outlines a few more parameters like retention category. With these surveys, developers can work on their projects with tree information in mind. 
  • Tree data schedule – displaying the information gathered as part of the BS5837 survey, a tree data schedule lists information like tree age, dimensions of the trunk and crow, the life expectancy of the tree, defects, condition, amenity value and more. 

  • Tree preservation order – it is local authorities that create a tree preservation order. These are in regards to singular trees, groups of trees or perhaps an entire woodland. A TPO is issued with the sole purpose of protecting the trees in the area, effectively forbidding any pruning or felling. 

  • Pre-purchase report – for individuals and companies looking to buy a property, many mortgage lenders will require from them a pre-purchase tree survey. Such a survey namely looks at the risk of subsidence and tree failure. The report checks out every tree within an influential distance of the property and assesses the risk that it poses based on the condition. 

  • Reports for litigation – if there is property or human damage, some tree surveys and reports are necessary. They need to adhere to the approved standards and can later be used in a court of law, if necessary. 

  • Tree condition survey – this is a report conducted in regards to tree pests and diseases. Whenever such issues are present, experts go on to provide an assessment of the situation. They check out the affected trees for signs of decay, empty patches of leaves and weak branches. Condition surveys depend on what number of trees are surveyed and what sort of budget is allocated for the task. The greater the perceived risk, the larger the area arborists need to cover, to get data. 

©Treework Environmental Practice


A Guide to Static Load Tests in Arboriculture


In the past, people used a combination of pulling and winching tests to research various tree biomechanics. The goal of those was to determine their resistance and how durable against rupture and uprooting they were. As a result of such tests, the tree was usually brought to ultimate failure and destruction. 

Nowadays arborists and arboricultural consultants employ a set of non-invasive tree risks assessment techniques, which preserve the trees they are conducted on. Static load tests are now the common method that experts utilise after it was developed at the University of Stuttgart in Germany. 

A static load test consists of three steps: 

  • Pulling test – this methodology aims to assess the risk of failure (usually related to uprooting or stem breakage). It is achieved by pulling the tree to simulate wind loading in moderate power. Things like root plate inclination and changes in the length of fibres are then measured to determine the results. As for the tools used for the job, it is usually a rope winch or a grip hoist that apply quasi-static forces then measured by an in-line dynamometer. The idea behind the test is simple – as the tree experiences increased load, its stem will bend and the root plate will tilt. Arborists can detect these changes with very sensitive instruments. By then looking at the degree of compression and exerted extension within marginal fibres, the experts can better determine fracture resistance. 

  • Wind load analysis – the goal of this test is to produce an estimate of the expected wind load of the given location. Any safe tree needs to be able to withstand the wind effects, as well as snow and ice. Wind loads depend on a few factors, such as expected wind speed and resistance of the tree to streaming air. The way to perform such analysis is to extract the crown in a digital picture and then the different levels are correlated with the wind speed. Experts are always mindful of the fact that wind speed increases with height above ground. There are national wind zone maps, which determine reference wind speeds and wind events. By using species-dependent parameters, experts are then able to assess the reaction of the tree to the wind. That is how they can streamline the crown or recommend a reduction in tree height. 

  • Evaluation – once the required tests have been performed, arborists can begin the assessment and evaluation process by using the acquired data. The goal is to get enough information on the critical load of the tree and whether the conditions and environment it is in are potentially dangerous to it. The analysis results in factors of safety, with a value of 1 when the resistance against failure matches the expected wind load. However, according to most engineering standards, structures should have a factor of safety equal to 1.5, which is the aim of any static load test. 

It should be pointed out that trees often compensate for insufficient strength by utilising adaptive growth. Arborists will always take into consideration a tree’s ability to produce additional wood fibres in the areas of excess strain, often just by visually inspecting the tree. This aspect of the job is essential to deducing meaningful recommendations by arborists, who correlate results of technical inspections with their visual assessments. 

There are still certain limitations that any such project presents, namely the majority of factors at play. In the future, these tests will be better able to produce meaningful information. 

© Treework Environmental Practice


Understanding Deadwood in the Cyclic Life of Arboreal Ecosystems

Many people consider deadwood as a long-gone part of the tree, as it is not even a living part attached to the tree anymore. However, the more correct way of referring to it is as ‘decaying’, instead of dead. It contributes to the diverse ecosystems that trees are part of and is not just a static limb. 

Decay essentially means a progression of use by a number of different organisms. Some organisms thrive in fresh wood, while others are involved in the breakdown of woody tissues. In some sense, decaying wood can be considered a habitat in its own right. Woodland managers and arborists often remove deadwood on the principle of hygiene. Doing so protects the remaining timber resources from various pests, like fungi and insects. This is especially the case in public parks and gardens, where dead wood is in fact a serious risk for people and property. But there is a problem with this, and it lies in the fact that many important species don’t find the necessary habitat to live and thrive. As a result, the arboreal system experiences a serious downside due to the lack of deadwood. 

The way that deadwood positively impacts arboreal ecosystems lies with factors like carbon storage, biodiversity, soil nutrients cycling, energy flows and hydrological processes. And while all of that is now largely understood by arborists, many of the previous generations of them have been focused on clearing deadwood. 

One example of the issue of clearing deadwood completely lies with some of the rare species, associated with veteran and ancient trees. A lot of them can only be found on sites with a higher amount of decaying wood. With organisms that rely on decaying wood becoming more isolated, trees are more vulnerable than ever. 

The signs of decaying wood habitats 

There are 2 recognised signs of decaying wood habitats. One has to do with standing trunks, branches and limbs around the tree. The second is cavities within the trunk and branches, where decay is taking effect. The habitats created because of these processes are different and recreating them takes different techniques. 

  • Standing deadwood – regardless if it is about branches or whole trunks, standing deadwood is easier to recreate. There are a few techniques that arborists utilise, such as destructive pruning and ring barking trunks and branches. This type of decay takes place from the outside in, creating the ideal habitat for invertebrates, lichens and fungi. 

  • Decay within the trunks/branches – the techniques involved in recreating this sort of decay are much more complex. Since the decay decomposes from the inside out. It creates cavities within seemingly healthy trunks, which are then populated by fungi and invertebrates. 

The methods utilised in creating a habitat

  • Destructive pruning – often used to create a habitat in trees. It involves techniques like decay creation within the trunk and the main branch structure of the trees. 

  • Veteranisation – this is a pruning technique, which aims to ‘age’ a tree prematurely in a more controlled manner. The goal is to create a habitat and stimulate the formation of another secondary crown. 

  • Natural fracture pruning – these are pruning techniques that mimic the natural process of branch loss, such as after severe storms. Small branches can be cut from the above side and removed from the crown. By leaving a fractured or split branch at the end, they remain unassociated with existing growing points. 

© Treeworks Environmental Practice


3 Common Symptoms of Trees Affected by Diseases and Pests


There are many stressors, which affect trees and put them under immense pressure. And even though one single issue can contribute to poor tree health, in most cases there are several causes at play, which impact its poor health and condition. 


It pays to be prepared with some knowledge on what the most common symptoms of issues on trees are. That way you can adequately take steps to ensure that the plants and trees affected are preserved and the issue is minimised. 


  • Damage to the leaves – leaves are the natural diet for a variety of woodland creatures. With little damage on them, there is no immediate danger to the tree. There is hardly any single leaf without some leaf damage, which doesn’t prevent vigorous and healthy growth of the said tree. However, some pests and diseases can contribute to serious issues within the leaf or at its edges and maybe even the complete loss of leaves. One of the most widespread pests is horse chestnut leaf miner, which is a tiny insect that feeds on horse chestnut leaves. As a result, leaves acquire some brown colouring and see-through patches, which can damage the tree. Sawfly larvae also cause significant leaf damage. They are like caterpillars, which develop into flies, and not butterflies. Small trees are particularly vulnerable to them, as the insects can completely strip them. If damage occurs during the first flush, then the tree can recover. The Alder leaf beetle is another example of an insect that can affect tree leaves. It feeds on the leaves of the common alder and deciduous trees. 

  • Wilting and yellow leaves – this is another sign of tree stress, the risk for which can be reduced by choosing the right tree for the site. The tree may have some sort of disease, be it a bacterial one or a fungi-based one. Paying attention to which trees are impacted is important because a lot of diseases are species-specific. For example, ash dieback impacts ash trees and Dutch elm disease is mostly present on older trees. Cherries are also prone to showing disease symptoms, with leaves looking wilted and brown. 

  • Bleeding cankers – ‘bleeds’ on the trunks of trees are a sign of stress. There are many contributing factors, such as drought, pollution, freezing and waterlogging, in addition to some diseases. A common pathogen responsible for bleeds is the Phytophthora species, which is fungal-based. It blocks the water transport system of the tree, which in turn leads to bleeding cankers on the trunks. Bacteria can also be responsible for bleeding cankers. For example, Horse chestnut trees are often at risk from the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. Small holes in the leaves often accompany the black patches of bark that appear on the trunk. A professional arborist may be the best bet for identifying the issue and providing a solution.

Sometimes, it is all about checking the location of the tree. Trees should be planted in the right space, or else they can struggle. Oak, yew, whitebeam, juniper and goat willow do well in slightly drier soil, whereas alder, willow and alder buckthorn do well in wetter conditions. If a tree is struggling, it may have to do with the moisture levels of the soil. If the soil is dry, then some watering is in order, though you need to be careful not to overwater the area. Water stress is often a cause for damage. 

© Treework Environmental Practice

Learning More About Acute Oak Decline - a Disease on UK Trees


Acute oak decline is a tree disease, which has impacted Europe severely several times in over 2 centuries. Currently, there is a version of this disease being observed in the UK, which has been monitored and examined for 20 years. The targets of this disease are trees over 50 years old, meaning that veteran oaks are at particular risk. 

The symptoms of acute oak decline include some of the following: 

  • Crown thinning – sometimes it is a sudden occurrence, in other cases, it is gradual over 2 years. 

  • Stem bleeding – the tree develops dark weeping patches. They may be less serious than they look, and can sometimes even heal if the tree recovers from that stressed state. 

  • Tree stress – in such a state, a tree becomes more vulnerable to pests and diseases, which may appear on the tree. 

  • Dark fluids – the dark fluids may seep through cracks in the bark, and run down the tree trunk. 

Several factors mostly determine the specifics of acute oak decline. The most important thing to remember is that the disease stresses out the trees. Things like waterlogging, pollution and sometimes drought are the environmental factors contributing to stressing the tree. Bacteria, fungi and insects can then further push an oak into decline. 

It bears mention that oak decline occurs in stressed trees. There are certain processes taking place then, such as the tree being unable to supply enough water, its crown becoming thin and it loses a certain amount of leaves. In response to drought, a tree will develop dark patches on the bark. The stress factors combine and then lead to low amounts of energy within the tree to compensate for the issue at hand. In this condition, it may be ill-prepared for cold months and not be able to manage a pest infestation as effectively. For trees pushed into decline like that, death may take place in the following years. 

Impact of acute oak decline 

Oak decline has been monitored for over 250 years. Germany has had an issue with this disease since the 1990s. In the UK, the oak decline has mostly struck in Wales and the southern shores of England. As it is an atypical disease, the spread of it is much lower. The same cannot be said for its environmental impact, however, especially in regards to the environmental conditions become more unpredictable. As a result, other tree species experience the same decline. 

The impact acute oak decline poses will increase, because environmental changes are ongoing still. Such a disease on trees will become more frequently surveyed, due to climate changes. Worse yet is the fact that the disease can cause the oak decline condition to be more severe. 

Here is what can be done about the acute oak decline 

Combating acute oak decline is not easy. One step in the right direction is to ensure more oaken trees are planted. More importantly, is planting them in an area that fosters their natural regenerative qualities. It is also important to do more research on the disease. Knowing what causes it and how it can be prevented and slow it down is very important. 

Good tree surveying is of utmost importance when it comes to acute oak decline. Having experts explore the trees in a given area and take notes of their condition can make all the difference in the world. Changing matters isn’t always possible, but it is essential to assess the situation early on. 

© Treework Environmental Practice


Some of the Most Widespread Tree Pests and Diseases


When it comes to dangers to UK trees, there are a lot of pests and diseases that qualify with the use of that word. It is important to monitor them and detect any issue early on so that it doesn’t lead to anything serious later on. Many pests and diseases can lead to very bad effects for trees if left rampant for too long. 

One of the best ways to control pests and diseases is to detect them early on through tree surveys. When arborists do that, they have a much better chance to deal with the condition of the tree, regardless of what it may be. There are several major pests and diseases that tree surveys can reveal: 

  • Acute oak decline – this is a tree disease that affects many native oak trees. It is a condition that has been present within the UK for the past 20 years. Arborists note it mostly affects mature oaks that are over 50 years of age. Symptoms of the disease include crown thinning, vertical cracks of the bark seeping dark fluid, stem bleeding that gets more severe with time and the presence of more pests and other diseases attacking the tree, which is already weakened. Acute oak decline is mostly due to a combination of factors, like waterlogging, soil conditions, pollution and drought. These can all weaken a mature tree and then leave it more vulnerable to fungi, bacteria and pests. 

  • Ash dieback – this disease, as evident from the name, targets trees of different ages. Of course, young, less mature trees are much more vulnerable, even though the symptoms are largely the same. They include dark patches of leaves, even present in the summer; early shedding; leaves and shoots die back; lesions at the areas where the trunk meets branches; epicormic growth – unusual growth under stress. The disease originates from Asia. And while Manchurian and Chinese ash trees have had more time to adapt and become less vulnerable to it, European ash trees have been way more susceptible to it. The reason is these trees did not evolve with the fungus that causes the disease and is much more vulnerable. 

  • Asian and Citrus longhorn beetles – these are beetles that target broadleaf trees. There is a high risk of them being imported in the wood package. Damage from this kind of beetles is mostly present in the form of holes in the trunk. Adult specimens feed on foliage and sometimes cause this damage to the trunk. The beatles are also regarded for stripping young bark from shoots. 

  • Dothistroma needle blight – this fungal disease creates opportunities for early needle drop. It is responsible for a lot of loss of yield in commercial forests and leads to the premature death of a lot of trees. It is particularly dangerous for Caledonian pine forests. The main symptoms of the disease manifest in June and July. At that time, arborists observe yellow spots on the needles of trees, which then go into the red. Needles shed a few weeks later after being infected. As a result, the branches get that ‘lion’s tail’ look with minor tufts of needle growth at the end. 

  • Bronze birch borer – this is a beetle that gets its name from the metallic bronze colour that it has. It feeds on wood during the larval stages, which heavily impacts the tree capacity to intake nutrients and water. The symptoms of bronze birch borer infestation are dead leaf retention, leaf thinning and discolouration, swelling and welts of the bark. 

These diseases and pests are common enough that they need to be monitored and checked for through regular tree surveys, to minimise and prevent the damage from them. 

© Treework Environmental Practice



5 Different Types of Tree Surveys You can Get



The purpose of a tree survey is to provide essential information on the trees within a given area. Whether it is a private or public landscape, arborists can survey the land and gather data on the tree species, their age, condition, metrics and more. Also, the tree survey aims to provide information on various tree pests and diseases that may be present, as well as assess the risk of subsidence in the area. The survey outlines ways that a tree can be protected during any developments being made in the area, as well as provides information on tree preservation orders and more. 

There are many different surveys that you can get for your property. The experts conduct each to a certain professional standard, based on your requirements. Here are some of the tree surveys you can have for your property: 

  • Condition report – in case you are managing a certain number of trees on your property and you want to find out more about their condition, then this survey is the right one to get. Professionals survey the trees and assess the potential risks associated with trees. They will then provide you with specific recommendations on how to manage these risks. 

  • A survey for planning purposes – whenever you want to submit a planning application, you need to consider the trees in the area. There is a tree survey you will need to get before anything else – the BS5837 survey. Only qualified arboricultural consultants can provide such a survey. They gather specific data in the area and feature it on their report. The main reason for getting such a survey is to get yourself planning consent. It is also essential for determining how you can lower the risk of damage to the trees during any development in the area. 

  • A tree survey for subsidence management – if there is a case of subsidence, you need a tree survey to identify the trees that are causing it. The goal of such a survey is to outline what steps can be taken to minimise the damage and prevent any future risk. Subsidence really isn’t a minor thing, as it can cause property damage and halt construction. Getting a proper survey is essential for managing such an issue, and for this reason, you will need to contact an experienced team of arborists to conduct the work on surveying the area and its trees. 

  • A survey for buying a house – when you are buying a house, you will find that mortgage lenders usually require a tree survey. That is because they want to be in the know about any potential risks, including subsidence. Besides, trees do add value to a property, so it is essential to consult the right experts for the job. 

  • Tree Preservation Order – various local authorities create tree preservation orders. They do so under the Countryside and Rights of Way act. The orders concern different trees, from specific ones to the entire area/woodland. The TPO is a tool to protect trees against acts of removal and anything that would otherwise contribute to a loss of amenity. Improper pruning is also a thing to be mindful of, which is why a TPO exists. Opposing a TPO is possible, although you will have to consult with an arborist company on how to manage the process. Once a company has conducted a tree survey, they should be able to tell whether the trees fall under the protection of a TPO. 

As you know more about the different kinds of surveys, you are now better equipped to get experts and conduct the right one. 

© Treework Environmental Practice

A Guide to Tree Surveys - All You Need to Know



If you want to clear some land in the UK, which has trees, you will likely require a tree survey. This is something that professional arborists can carry out for you. If you are not sure what a tree survey is and how to get one, then the following guide is right for you. 


What is a tree survey/tree report? 

Tree surveys represent the process of gathering detailed data about trees present on a given property. These surveys aim to acquire more information about trees on both public and private landscapes. The reason why one would want to get a tree survey lies with the fact that owners of the land and representatives of the management team behind it have a legal duty to maintain the health and safety of trees, especially if the land is open to the public. Furthermore, to make the right decisions about the area owners need to have the expert level of information, which arborists can acquire during a tree survey. It is usually performed to the BS5837 standard. It presents a guideline for all of the data that needs to go into the survey, for it to be of any legal use. 


What information do tree surveys collect?

The British Standard BS5837 accumulates all of the information necessary for tree surveys. Based on it, the experts provide data on: 


  • The number of trees in the area 
  • The species of trees in the area 
  • Giving a unique reference number to each of the individual trees 
  • Age of trees – sometimes given by class, i.e. young, mature, veteran 
  • The life expectancy of trees 
  • The diameter of the trunk 
  • Radii of the crown 
  • The health of trees – features structural and physiological condition 
  • Management recommendations 

All of this is mostly information for the experts to read and make recommendations based on. It is what makes the tree survey viable. 


How to determine if you require a survey? 

Carrying out a tree survey is required by law in many areas. One of the reasons for this is the species of trees in the area, many of which require protection. The Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 sets out the directives, which protect certain trees, i.e. stating they cannot be cut down. Another reason for tree surveys lies with developing the landscape. For those who want to build within the vicinity of trees, they will require a tree survey to determine whether the trees there are under a tree protection order and how to minimise the negative impact of development on them. Trees add great value to any property, and so any designer out there will first want to see a tree survey for recommendations on how to prevent any damage. Another important reason for tree surveys lies with detecting pests, diseases and structural damage, as well as the need to prune or otherwise assist the tree so that it doesn’t become a hazard. 


Do you need a tree survey? 

If you are close to finalising the plans for the development of your property, and you have a desire to add ancillary buildings or extensions, then a tree survey is something you need to get. If you need service lines or change of access to the property, you will also need a survey. It should include all of the trees present there, including any that are within influential distance. Needless to say, it has to be carried out by professional arborists, who know how to conduct the survey from A to Z and come up with the necessary data and recommendations. 


© Treework Environmental Practice


Important Information on Tree Surveys you Should Know

An arboricultural survey is often used to identify and preserve trees within a given area. It provides important information to homeowners and estate managers with a plan on the trees within the area. 


There are various reasons why you’d want to have a tree survey conducted. The most common of them are: 


  • Subsidence – this is not a small problem, which affects properties. The reason why it occurs lies with tree roots. If a homeowner suspects this sort of issue with their property, they have to request a tree survey from a professional company. They will send out experts to inspect whether it is indeed the case and also assess the level at which the tree roots have affected the foundations of the building. 


  • Safety – at times, trees indeed pose a risk to the health and safety of the public. Conducting a professional tree survey is the only way to assess this risk to the people and property on the site. It is very important to conduct frequent surveys on trees of old age since they have a higher chance of having dead branches that can break at any time. 


  • Mortgage purposes – another reason to conduct a tree survey lies with mortgage lenders and their desire to assess the safety of nearby trees and how they can affect the risks to the property. Other than that, it is no secret that trees do affect the value of any home, depending on their condition and location, and that is another thing mortgage lenders may want to know. 


What Goes Into A Tree Survey? 

There are a few important aspects of each survey: 

  • A report that outlines relevant recommendations for the tree/s that have been surveyed.
  • Various data on the trees, including number and species, condition, diseases and pests present, etc. 

  • An overall assessment of the woodland/area that has been surveyed. 

  • Information as per the BS5837 standard, pointing out to the health, age and growth of the trees in the area. The local council may request such surveys, as they are needed for planning and developmental permissions. 

One of the major purposes of a tree survey is that it has to be preemptive about certain issues that trees develop. To identify and assess these problems, experts conduct a survey, to have the information before a real problem escalates. And even though trees make for an important component of the landscape, when individual trees pose too serious of risk to property and people, they may need to be removed. Tree surveys outline this need or share the necessary steps to mitigating the risk and remedying the situation. 

Sometimes tree surveys are necessary out of the need to comply with British duty of care, in addition to statutory requirements. Only licensed arborists conduct surveys, however, as they have the necessary tools and expertise for the job. This is also because tree surveys should adhere to various standards. 

How long does it take to conduct a tree survey? 

A quick survey is possible with a professional company. Their aim is usually to provide quick results since they know that homeowners and developers require them. Because of the tools and knowledge of the experts, a tree survey wouldn’t take long to execute. All that people need to do is find a company that works within the area and then consult with them on conducting a tree survey. They will be able to arrange things pretty quickly. 


© Treework Environmental Practice


How to Conduct a Tree Survey?


Tree surveys aim to provide a landowner with various data on the trees present there. Such a survey plays an important role in the development of the land and outlines steps to improve the condition of the trees on it. Every good landlord knows that trees boost the value of a property greatly and so need to be preserved. Furthermore, some trees are protected by law, like the Wildlife and Countryside act, which has to do with felling prohibition on protected trees. 


Overall, it is clear that tree surveys are important enough so that you should never ignore them. But it is also important to understand how experts conduct them. There are a few types of surveys that are important: tree health surveys targeted surveys and pre-property development surveys. Each of them is specific: 


Tree health surveys – inspect the health of all trees on the property, the presence of diseases and pests. Outlines possible cures and prevention methods. 


Targeted surveys – these establish the damage and extent of a tree disease. Their goal is to predict further damage and prevent more issues. 


Pre-property development survey – this is done to ensure the property complies with the British Standard BS5837: 2012, in the trees concerning the construction part. 

So what are the phases of a tree survey? Following are each of them with a rundown of what they include. 


Phase 1 – Pre-planning and setting parameters 

Before the survey starts, experts plan out how they will conduct it. There are a few methods they can use. 


Line transects – perhaps the most common way of conducting tree surveys. It involves walking a series of parallels and evenly-spaced lines. The experts then conduct an exam of all trees on the left and right of these lines. 


Quarter-point transects – experts walk a line to the north, south, west and east starting from a diseased tree. That way they can estimate just how many trees are infected and how far the disease has spread. 


Radius survey – when trees have great distances between them, this sort of survey is just right. Experts choose a radius and survey all of the tree species in that radius. 

Complete survey – looks at all trees for signs of pests and diseases. It is the go-to method for small woodlands and parks. 


Most tree surveys take place from the ground, although in some cases experts may need to climb them. This is because they have to examine the branches on top and the crowns. It is essential to pick the right time for a tree survey since not all diseases are active during certain seasons. 


Phase 2 – Additional work 

- For a survey to be considered viable, experts need to do the following: 

- Note the position, species and condition of trees

- Check dimensions and crown spread 

- Check leaf colour 

- Inspect for deadwood and damaged branches 

- Check for ivy growth, swellings, fungus, ark damage 

- Check for exposed roots and root damage 

- Check for cracks in the soil or uplifting of the concrete structures 

- Experts will use tree tags to map the surveyed trees. When they are done, there will be an assessment of the value of the landscape. 


Phase 3 – Impact assessment 

During this phase, experts assess the impact of tree damage on the property. It contains such details, as what trees need to be removed, how to protect trees during the construction process and other recommendations to best preserve trees. 


Tree surveys are an important part of tree maintenance and finding the right experts to conduct them is equally crucial.


© Treework Environmental Practice


How to Avoid Tree Damage During Construction



When it comes to construction works, trees are often in the way. Many developers choose a site for new construction because of trees, as they add aesthetic value and boost the environment in many ways. 


Unfortunately, this means that when the process of construction begins, trees in question are at risk. It takes planning and cares to preserve them on the building sites. Consulting with an arborist then becomes a necessity as does actively working with the builders to minimise the risk. There are certain things you can do to protect trees during construction: 


  • Planning and organisation - early planning is crucial for the wellbeing of trees during the construction process and especially in the early phases of it. During this step, arborists and builders need to cooperate, to consider the trees present in the area. Sometimes it takes minor changes in the driveway design or the placement of the house that can preserve trees. If there is no way to re-route utility lines, perhaps a change of technique can be employed? For example, tunnelling and trenching installations are two techniques that are tree-friendly. 


  • Limiting access with barriers - an effective way to prevent damage to trees is to erect barriers around them. This enables physical protection from machinery and the construction process. Some sturdy fences around each tree can keep harm away. Consider the spacing to be as far out from the trunk. Another thing that can help is to limit access to the construction site from a single entry point. Instruct all contractors where they are allowed to park and drive vehicles. This will limit compaction and soil damage. 


  • Communicate at all times - when it comes to preserving trees, it is a good thing to always communicate your objectives with the arborist, builder and all subcontractors involved in the building process. When you visit the site and you always warn people about tree risks, you will present yourself as vigilant and that will pay off. After all, trees are worth the effort. 


What can you do in case of damage during construction? 

Construction damage may affect the stability and structure of a tree. It is the job of an arborist to inspect potential risks. An inspection involves both visual examination and instruments that reveal the presence of decay. If there are risks identified, the arborist will recommend the removal of limbs and prune the tree. They may also install cables and braces that serve to increase structural support. 


In case there is a need to treat the crown and trunk: 

  • Pruning is a good option - broken and split branches should always be removed. In addition, any dead limbs from the crown must go. If these take place, it is a good idea to postpone crown raising and other maintenance pruning.


  • Bracing and cabling - braces and cables offer additional support. Installing them is a matter of a professional arborist doing the work and assessment beforehand. Any cables and braces require regular inspection. Bear in mind that not all limbs are good candidates for such measures. 


  • Drainage and irrigation - it is essential to follow up construction damage with proper watering of the root zone. Now, don’t go overboard with excessive watering, as that can also be harmful to trees. 


  • Mulching - adding a few inches of organic mulch around trees will enhance root growth. This can speed up recovery from construction damage. 


Now that you know better how to prevent construction damage, or address it after it has occurred, you can better protect trees. 


© Treework Environmental Practice


Do you Need Special Permission to cut Down a Tree on your Property?


While it is true that keeping trees healthy is always preferable, sometimes it may just not be possible to do so. The tree may have sustained severe damage after a storm, or there might be something else about it that you cannot fix. When a tree becomes a danger to people and property, it is taking it down that will become a priority. Bear in mind that cutting down a tree should always be a last resort because of the many implications this action has for wildlife and people. 


And before you do it, you need to consider the rules that surround this act, as well as the alternatives. 


What are your reasons for felling a tree?

There are many reasons why you may want to fell a tree. For starters, the reasons might be aesthetical, to minimise the impact of leaves/seeds and wildlife. Perhaps a more serious reason could be the fact that roots are causing subsidence in the nearby buildings, which is something to watch out for. In the case of the latter, even though you may have certain reservations, felling the tree could be the best option. If there is structural damage to the tree and it there is a potential it can fall, it might leave you no other choice. 


What are the consequences of cutting down a tree?

There are many benefits to keeping trees around, which means that cutting down one is a negative thing. For starters, trees are home to various wildlife representatives. It is safe to say a lot of species depend entirely on trees for safety, finding food, shelter and reproduction. Since these species cannot find the resources they need elsewhere, they seek out trees in our gardens. Taking out their home doesn’t bode well for them. 

Furthermore, trees provide oxygen and combat air pollution. They absorb the carbon emissions and serve a stabilising role for the soil with their roots. Spending more time near trees has also been proven to relax people and make them feel better. People value trees, which is a reason why having a few of them in your garden can boost the value of the property. Felling a tree means that you lose all of these benefits. 


What are the alternatives?

If there is a serious problem, felling the tree may not be the only solution. Pruning and pollarding are two methods, which can save it. This can clear some of the hanging branches and reduce the weight of the tree in the setting. It is best to seek advice from a tree consultant/advisor, as they know how you can manage a problem tree. Sometimes doing some pruning is enough to preserve the tree in top shape. Make sure to contact an assured tree surgeon for the task. That way, you will know the task is done to a good standard. It is a good idea to contact the Arboricultural Association for the task. 


Do you need permission to cut down a tree in your own garden?

If there is a Tree Preservation Order placed on the tree, then you will require permission from the local council if you wish to do anything with the tree. Trees under TPOs provide some amenity value, and you cannot just do whatever you want. First, you want to contact a tree officer who will be able to help you find out if there is such an order. If there isn’t, and the tree is not a Conversation Area, you don’t need permission.


Knowing more about the felling procedure of trees on your property will better help you determine the best course of action. 


© Treework Environmental Practice

A Closer Look at the Different Types of Tree Surveys


There are many surveys that a private or public landscape can use. Tree surveys are just one of the types, which have to do with providing the essential information on trees on that property and their condition. It is very important to gain this understanding of trees, to make more informed decisions when it comes to maintenance and construction. 

There is a lot of information that tree surveys provide. Thanks to the established British Standard BS5837, arborists can determine the health of a tree and what steps should be taken to better the condition. Of course, there are many different types of services you can hire arborists for. Following is a quick guide on the matter: 

1. Tree surveys for planning purposes

If you are about to submit your planning application and there are nearby trees in the location, you will do well to use qualified arboricultural consultants for a BS5837 survey. Thanks to this standard, the experts know the exact data that goes into the tree report, and they can use it to conduct the tree survey in accordance. 

2. Tree surveys for determining tree condition

If you are responsible for a given number of trees on the property and you want to assess their condition, then a tree survey for safety/management purposes is in order. Contacting qualified arborists is always the first step. They will come to the area and closely examine all of the trees there for diseases and other defects. The report that follows will then provide information on how you can reduce the risks, or remove the danger altogether. 

3. Tree surveys for buying a house

If you are buying or selling a house, there is the risk of subsidence to consider. This, as well as tree failure, are no small risks, and that is why you need a tree survey. It basically includes all of the trees within the influential distance of the property. In the report, experts will outline what steps you can take to minimise the risk and bring it down to an acceptable level, if not remove it completely. 

4. Tree surveys for subsidence management


If there is already a case of subsidence, a tree survey is needed to determine the trees causing subsidence, or if trees are to blame for it in the first place. Arborists will conduct the tree survey on all trees within the potential influence. The goal of conducting a tree survey, in this case, is to outline ways to reduce the risks and manage the problem. It is important to rely on experts for the job, since tree subsidence in no small matter. Not only will they recommend a course of action for the current problem, but also outline how you can minimise future risks. 

5. Tree preservation order 

Tree preservation orders are usually created by Local Authorities, whether it be for individual trees, a group of trees or woodlands. The purposes of the TPO, in general, is to protect the tree from removal or improper pruning. These are all activities that result in a loss of amenities. Obtaining a Tree Preservation Order is usually done after a tree survey. To find out more on the matter, you best consult with an arboricultural agency. 

6. Litigation

In the case where a tree has caused damage to a person or property, a tree survey is conducted. It is then presented as a report per law court standards. 

Now that you know more about tree surveys, you can better ensure the right type is performed for you and your property. 

© Treework Environmental Practice