What is a Tree Survey?

Are you planning on having some land cleared in London? If you are, it’s possible that you will need a tree survey beforehand.

Let’s look at what a tree survey is and some reasons why you might need one.


What is a Tree Survey? – Information on Tree Surveys

Tree surveys are commonly carried out on public or private landscapes.

The aim of the tree survey is to find out useful information about the trees.

This is provided to homeowners or property management to enable them to make decisions. Depending on the findings of the survey, they will decide what will happen to the trees on the land.

There are lots of different pieces of information that go into a tree survey. Usually, a professional arborist or tree surgeon works to BS5837 British Standard.

This standard is a really useful guide that helps people to make decisions based on the facts found by the survey. Sometimes trees are selected to be removed or they might be left alone.


What Information is on a Tree Survey?

The professional arborists judge trees according to the British Standard BS5837. This standard sets out to define whether trees should remain on the land and which can be removed.

From a survey you can find out:

  • The number of trees (usually, trees are counted when their diameter measures more than 75mm at 1.5m above the ground)
  • Reference numbers that are unique to each tree
  • Tree species (this can be by common name or by scientific name)
  • Tree age (the class can be given e.g. veteran, postmature, mature, semi-mature, young)
  • Tree life expectancy
  • Tree height in metres
  • Tree diameter in centimetres (this measurement needs to be taken at 1.5m above the ground)
  • The crown radii in metres for the north, south, east and west crowns.
  • The health of the tree and its structural and physiological condition
  • Recommendations for tree management

The professionals carrying out the survey know how to carry out all of the important measurements and know how to determine the health of the trees.

This means they can make informed decisions about what can happen to the trees on the property.


When is a Tree Survey Necessary?

In some areas, you are obliged by law to have a tree survey carried out. This is because the area might have a certain species of tree that needs protecting.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is there to prevent protected trees from being cut down either intentionally or by accident.

In terms of other reasons, you might want a tree survey carried out before you make plans to change a property or a landscape.

Perhaps you’re wanting to build on some of the land or near to some trees. The information from a tree survey is really useful when generating designs of a property on a computer.

Draft designs are much more realistic when a tree survey has been done.

Landscape designers know that trees add value to a property so a tree survey will be able to help them in their decisions about which trees to keep.

If a tree has to be kept, it means designers can plan around it and keep it incorporated into their designs so that it blends in well.

Another use of a tree survey is to pinpoint any hazards that might exist on the property. For example, a tree survey might highlight a tree that could fall or is diseased.

If a tree has fungal decay, it could fall at any point (especially during bad weather or strong winds). For these trees, removal is the better option.

The specially trained arboriculturist will be able to present the garnered information in a way that everyone can understand.

Each tree on the land will be given a special number and tag. This means that the numbers can be crossed checked with a summary table showing relevant details.

Work should only begin on land when a tree survey has been completed.


Do I need a tree survey?

If you are planning an extension of an existing property or planning to build new ancillary buildings, you will need a tree survey carrying out.

Also, if you are changing access or moving service lines, this will also be required.

The survey needs to include trees that are on the site and trees that are within twelve metres of any new service line, new access point or new building.

If you are building a new property, you will need to survey all of the trees that are on site as well as any that fall within twelve metres of the site’s boundary.


Which trees need to be included?

The survey needs to show all of the trees on a plan. This must be scaled to 1:500 and must be accurate within ± 0.5m.


When a Tree Survey is not Required

If you are altering an existing property but you are not changing the property’s footprint and are not changing access points or service lines, a tree survey probably won’t be needed.


Tree surveys in London

If you are in the City of London, it’s important to know if there are any special requirements when it comes to looking after the trees on your property or land.

Whilst the majority of trees in the city don’t have Tree Preservation Order protection, those in a conservation area do.

In fact, there are only 34 trees in the City of London that are under a TPO. Twenty four of these are City Corporation Trees and 10 of these are private trees.


Tree Condition Survey or Tree Risk Assesment Survey (tree safety)

If you are responsible for trees and tree maintenance, you should  be concerned about tree safety. A Tree Condition Survey or a Tree Risk Survey might be necessary.

In this type of survey, each tree is examined closely for disease and defects.

The report on this survey will give recommendations that will help you to decide what works need to be carried out in order to reduce risks.

In high-risk areas like schools, Tree Risk Surveys have to be carried out frequently, as much as every year.

It is recommended to stagger these surveys due to the changing nature of trees throughout the seasons. Autumn and winter often highlight different problems to spring and summer.


Benefits of Tree Risk Surveys

There are many benefits to getting Tree Risk Surveys.

Though you can never guarantee that a tree is 100% safe, if you monitor a tree’s condition and take the necessary corrective action when required, the risks are significantly reduced.

Being proactive in your approach to managing trees often means a reduction in costs since remedial works are often cheaper.


Pre-purchase Tree Report and Survey

If you are looking at buying or selling a property, you might need a tree survey that will be able to assess the risk of subsidence and tree failure.

This is a survey that will include trees that are within a distance of being able to influence the property. The report will give recommendations on reducing the risk.


Tree Report and Survey to Manage Subsidence

If subsidence has occurred, a tree report and survey can determine which trees are responsible for causing the subsidence. This tree report will also show you how to reduce risk in the future.


Tree Preservation Orders

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, local authorities have the power to create TPOs (Tree Preservation Orders).

This could be on an individual tree, a group of trees or an entire woodland.

The purpose of a Tree Preservation Order is to protect any tree against removal or bad pruning that might result in a loss of amenity.


Legal and Expert Witness – Litigation

If trees might have caused damage to property or people, a survey is often carried out to report to the court of law.


Article was written by Louise W.

Edited by Conner D on 16/07/2019.

Article Source: https://www.graftingardeners.co.uk/what-is-a-tree-survey/

One comment on “What is a Tree Survey?”

  1. I need a pre-purchase tree report and survey for trees in front of house, which might be causing structural damage for the property. Property is in Wembley Park area

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