Everything You Need to Know About Tree Surveys

house surrounded by trees under cloudy sky

Have you ever wondered how people who are building a new home from scratch on an undeveloped piece of land, or property developers who are building on an area, determine which trees to keep on the land, and which to remove? If you are considering a new development project for the future, then you may not have even realised that assessing an area for the variety and species of trees and determining which trees can remain and which should be removed is an important step in the planning process.

Before any forested land is used for any kind of development, it should first be evaluated by a certified tree surveyor. Tree surveys involve an assessment of the types of trees on a piece of land that is currently being considered by development, either by having landscaping performed or for development. A qualified tree surveyor will be required if you are planning to landscape or build on land that will likely require the removal of several trees.

What is a Tree Survey?

A tree survey involves much more than simply making a list of the trees that are present on this property. And it’s also about more than simply saving trees from being removed. During a survey, tree surveyors from TreeSurvey.co.uk will perform a range of important tree-related assessment tasks. These include taking measurements and collecting data on the various types of tree species in the area, making notations on the size of every tree on the property, mapping out where all the trees are located in the area, and determining and noting the ages of each tree on the property.

The BS 5839 tree survey was produced by the British Standards Institute and applies to planning applications wherever there are trees involved on the site. The tree survey dictates what information should be collected when a tree survey is carried out. It leads to a tree survey report, which provides further information on any effects that different construction activities may have on the trees in the area. It also provides recommendations relating to the care and preservation of the trees.  

Why Might You Need a Tree Survey?

If you’re planning to develop a piece of land that will require some work to be done beforehand on the trees, then a tree survey should be performed. There are several different reasons why you may wish to have a tree survey performed. First of all, some trees are protected by law due to their current status and perhaps the status on an endangered species list. If there are protected trees on your property, you will need to make plans to either not remove them and plan the development around them or relocate them safely in a way that does not damage the tree.

Along with this, a tree survey might help you determine if there are certain trees that might increase the value of the property. Because of this, a tree survey can help you develop around these trees so that you can get the most from your development project.

What is a Tree Survey For?

The tree survey may be necessary for individuals or companies who are planning or thinking about developing or altering property or land that is close to, or home to trees. This involves demolition, construction, renovation and design. Most of the time, this concerns large developmental organisations such as new home developers. However, it may also include individual home builders or homeowners.  

Along with protecting trees, a tree survey is crucial to preserve local wildlife. They also ensure the safety of future developments by making sure that bigger trees and roots are not going to cause any damage or pose any risk to the building when it has been constructed.

Tree Survey Terms You’ll Need to Know

The survey is usually carried out in a process involving three different steps, which may vary slightly depending on the site. There are tree survey terms that you will need to know when arranging and having your tree survey carried out include

Tree Survey Plan

A tree survey plan refers to an exact scale plan that is drawn up to show where each tree that’s in the area is located.

Tree Constraints Plan

The tree constraints plan needs to show certain things for each tree located on the site. These include the accurate crown spread and position, the root protection area, a tree quality assessment, the crown spread and height for the future growth potential, and the tree’s shade footprint at different times of the day.  


A reference number is given to each tree in the development location. This is the beginning of the eleven-stage schedule that is applied to each tree present.

  1. The scientific name of the species.
  2. Any Conservation Area order or order for Tree Preservation applied to a specific tree will be recorded.
  3. How many metres high each tree is.
  4. The Stem Diameter, in centimetres, is measured 1.5m above the ground level.
  5. The age class of the tree. Trees are given different age classifications from young to veteran.  
  6. The brand spread to each point on the compass.
  7. The structural and physiological condition of the tree.
  8. The tree’s remaining useful life.
  9. Any preliminary recommendations for tree management.  
  10. All of the above data is then used in a quality assessment that determines whether trees should be either kept or removed.

What to Look for in an Arboricultural Consultant

An arboricultural consultant may have a key role when it comes to the success of your planning application, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Some of the main things to consider include experience, qualifications, reputation, insurance, and value for money. Bear in mind that you might not always be getting the best value for money if you go for the cheapest tree surveyor available. If the application fails, this can be very costly, therefore it is worth paying more for a reputable consultant to help you make sure your site achieves its full potential.  

Before any construction project where trees are present on the site, it’s important to have a tree survey conducted.

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