British Standard for Tree Work BS 3998:2010

British Standard for Tree Work BS 3998:2010

Tree work includes a lot of tree maintenance such as pruning, felling, lopping and removal of trees.

If you’ve got a tree that requires being cut back or even removed, you wouldn’t try to do it yourself or hire the services of unlicensed tree surgeons.

You need the right tools and knowledge to work with large trees and to also avoid injury.


The Recommended Way to Work with Trees

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The British Standard for Tree Work was first produced in 1966 and revised in 1989. It gives recommendations for all the different types of tree work and also provides guidance on management options for established trees.

A sure way to recognise a reputable and competent tree surgeon is to look out for the ARB Approved Contractor Shield on their website.

The standard doesn’t give guidance on undertaking arboricultural surveys but considers the impact of work on an individual tree in relation to neighbouring trees. BS 3998:2010 has been updated to bring in changes in the law as well as practices concerning established trees, wildlife and their habitats as well as veteran trees.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is renewed frequently and gives recommendations for tree work – when work should be carried out, how to specify work, how work should be carried out, site management and how to do tree bracing. This is when the tree requires supplemental support to reduce the risk of structural failure of the crown or root system. Bracing provides a solution for such a tree failure.

The Standard for Tree Work was published in 2010, detailing how tree surgery works and how stump management should be conducted.

If you have trees that need pruning, make sure to only use a tree surgeon who works to BS3998, which covers the management of trees, considering the soil, growing environment and the needs of other trees in the vicinity.


Some things covered by the British Standard BS3998 –

  • safety and management of the site to minimise risks to people and the tree.
  • biosecurity to prevent diseases from being transferred from one tree to another.
  • protection of wildlife and their habitats.
  • management of the trees rooting environment including aeration, mulching irrigation and the removal and replacement of soil.
  • pruning, crown lifting and reduction.
  • management of deadwood.
  • treatment of bark wounds.
  • management of decay
  • tree felling
  • stump management


Insurance to Avoid Being Held Responsible

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Accidents happen and certainly when you hire the services of professional tree fellers, you’ll want to know that they carry insurance. If not, you could be held responsible should there be damages or injuries while work is being carried out on your premises.

Common causes of injuries while working with trees include –

  • electrocution from working around power lines
  • sun exposure
  • falling from heights
  • being struck by flying wood


It’s an offence to fell trees without a license and all those involved in the felling of trees must ensure that a license has been issued before felling. If there isn’t a license for instance and the wrong trees are felled, those involved can be prosecuted.

As you can see it is imperative to select a reputable team of arborists who conduct a wide range of tree services carried out to British standards BS3998. At GraftinGardeners all our work is insured and qualified and done according to British Standards.

We are also members of the most trusted and recognised associations in the UK. We have fully qualified tree surgeons with lots of experience in the arboricultural industry and when you see our green, white and black vehicles you know that those people are capable and equipped to tackle any tree work for residential- and commercial properties.


Arborists with Extensive Knowledge

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Tree surgery is a dangerous business and should only be performed by professional tree surgeons. All our arborists have extensive knowledge and experience in the arboricultural industry, and they know exactly what it takes to get the job done.

We make sure that each tree surgeon in our company is trained and that their training and certificates are kept up to date.

Arborists know that pruning a tree is good for it as it keeps the tree in shape and helps to strengthen the tree. Whatever reason you have for pruning a tree, it is essential to do it correctly, otherwise you could end up damaging the tree and making it look unattractive.

Also, there are trees that are legally protected in the UK and pruning one of these trees without permission from the relevant authorities is looked upon as a criminal offence.

You have to know precisely how to prune a tree because simply removing too big a branch can open up the way for disease to enter the tree from the hacking and wound you left behind.


Does a Tree Feel Pain?

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A tree is a living organism and there are some people who insist that a tree does feel pain. While there are many unknowns about a tree’s sensory system, they can definitely respond to their environment.

Pruning does inflict a wound on the tree, and its ability to withstand a wound and also maintain healthy growth will be affected by the type of pruning the tree gets. As a rule, tree branches should be removed at their point of attachment.


There’s a Skill to Pruning Trees

As you can see, there is a proper way to prune trees. When you need a tree surgeon or an arborist, make sure you don’t impulsively choose just anyone. There are tree surgeons in name only.

You want a reputable firm that has public liability in excess of £5,000,000 and who has so much more to their name than just a practical knowledge on how to prune and fell trees.

The best tree fellers always work to recognised national standards and they are members of professional organisations and guarantee to carry out work to a high standard.

If you know that your tree work is being carried out to the exacting requirements of British Standard 3998 for tree surgery, then you’ve found the best tree surgeons.

Poorly maintained trees can be a liability and tree work performed by the best tree surgeons means that your ailing trees won’t ever be a risk.


Article was written by Conner D.

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