Tree Surveys and Protection Plans

Trees are an important factor on development projects and construction sites and tree surveys and protection plans are a material consideration in the UK planning system.

Trees are a key element of green infrastructure offering the built environment many benefits; they help cooling through evapo-transpiration and provide micro-climatic effects. Trees represent a key resource that can significantly contribute to climate change adaptation.

Tree Surveys

Where development or construction is planned on a site with trees, a BS5837 Tree Constraints Survey will be required as part of a planning application. This tree survey identifies all trees with a stem diameter of over 75mm and categorises them according to their importance within the landscape. This categorisation is used by planners to determine how a proposed construction will affect the trees on site.

Arboricultural Impact Assessments

The Arboricultural Impact Assessment identifies all possible impacts of a proposed development on the trees of a site, and specifies which trees require removal and those which can be retained with protection measures applied.

Arboricultural Method Statements and Tree Protection Plans

When mitigation measures are needed for the protection of trees, an Arboricultural Method Statement outlines the working methods for construction workers to follow during development. The Tree Protection Plan forms part of the Arboricultural Method Statement and provides construction workers with an easy visual plan to identify where tree protection on site is needed.

Tree Health Surveys

Trees are natural living organisms subject to environmental pressures and change. Their condition can deteriorate and tree owners have a legal responsibility to ensure that risks of damages through failure are reduced through reasonable means. A Tree Condition or Tree Health Survey identifies any potential risks or signs of ill health within trees and allows appropriate work to be carried out to make the trees as safe as reasonably possible.


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The BS5837:2012 Arboricultural Survey aims to identify trees which are protected by law and provides a method of categorising any trees of great significance at an early stage in a project.

Tree Preservation Orders (TPO)

Some trees are protected by a TPO, enforced by the local planning authority (LPA). It is illegal to carry out any kind of work to these trees without first seeking approval from the LPA with a formal application.

Conservation Areas

Trees within Conservation Areas are afforded a similar level of protection to those covered by a TPO. An application should be made to the LPA before carrying out any kind of work to these trees.

Ancient Woodlands

Ancient Woodland sites are those that have been covered by trees since at least 1600 and have therefore become host to a range of species, creating an irreplaceable habitat.

Some species of tree contribute to the classification and identification of Ancient Woodland. They are also responsible for defining whether a hedgerow is classified as ‘important’ under the Hedgerow Regulations. Even though they may lack considerable vertical height, they still contribute to the total number of woody species within the hedgerow.

Veteran & Ancient Trees

Ancient trees, often associated with an exceptionally large stem diameter for the species, are those showing signs that they are truly old. These trees not only provide visual and cultural importance in the landscape but also host a range of species that younger trees do not.

Veteran trees are those that may not yet be old enough to be considered ancient, but exhibit some similar physical attributes, which are valuable to the ecology of the site.