What is a BS5837 Tree Survey?

What is a BS5837 Tree Survey?

BS5837 tree survey recommends the necessary steps to retain trees appropriately when development takes place. This means that there are certain trees on site or near the site where development is planned to take place, and the Local Planning Authority should consider them when making decisions about planning applications. 

A BS5837 tree survey should be carried out by anyone considering altering property a piece of land that contains or is close to trees.

Tree surveys are aimed at not only preserving local wildlife but also protecting new developments by ensuring that adjacent trees won’t affect these buildings once they are built. Trees can affect the structural integrity of a property, and this can also affect the market price of the building. Hence, before constructing or renovating a building, it is advisable to have a tree survey conducted by a qualified professional.

Tree Surgeon John Fryer

BS5837 Tree Survey Glossary

A tree survey usually involves a three-stage process to determine what needs to be done. In most cases, the area that needs survey is determined by the influencing distance of the tree which is about 15 meters. Here are the three stages:


1) Tree survey plan 

A drawn plan that shows the specific location of each tree in a specified area. This is important because it is drawn exactly to scale to help plan the tree survey with ease.


2) Schedule

There is a total of 12 point schedule for every tree in the specified area. The first step involves giving each tree a unique reference number. After giving each tree a reference number, here are the other schedule points that are followed:

  • Noting the scientific and/or common name of each tree species
  • Recording any Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or Conservation Area Protection if there is any
  • Record the height of each tree in metres
  • Measuring the stem diameter of each tree in cm. The measurement should be taken 1.5m from the ground
  • Record branch spread to North, South, East and West
  • Preliminary management recommendations
  • Age class, i.e. young, semi-mature, mature, over-mature and veteran
  • Physiological and structural condition while documenting health and any defects the tree might have
  • Remaining ‘useful life’ of the tree
  • Tree Quality Assessment – the assessment uses all the data recorded above to determine whether the tree will be retained or removed


3) Tree constraints plan

This plan must show these five things for each tree in the area:

  • Tree Quality Assessment
  • Root Protection Area
  • Future Growth Potential, i.e. crown spread and height
  • Accurate position and crown spread
  • Shade footprint throughout the day


Professional Tree Surveys

If you would like a tree survey, we can help you because our arborists are qualified to offer ecological and arboricultural consultancy services. If you are worried that the development site has possible constraints, we can offer a site survey and a report assessing all the development constraints. 

To get the required assessment, we will use the Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey and Tree Survey to get all the information we need. After we have gathered all the information we need, we will provide you with a Tree Constraint Report identifying individual trees or groups of trees near the site that are hindering construction. The data we provide is easy to read and understand to help homeowners and property managers to make informed decisions. 

What is a Tree Survey?

What is a Tree Survey?

A tree survey can be conducted on both private and public landscapes with the aim of helping homeowners and property managers make informed decisions. The main objective of a tree survey is to provide useful information about a particular tree or a group of trees. Depending on the information obtained, the owners can then decide what to do.

After the survey is conducted, some of the information that will be revealed will include the following:

  • The age of the tree
  • Tree’s life expectancy
  • Species of the tree based on the scientific names of the tree
  • Physical measurements of the tree including the height and the diameter
  • Management recommendations
  • The overall health of the tree

Although it is not a must to conduct a tree survey, there are many reasons why people conduct a tree survey on their property or homes. For instance, when you are planning to build on some land that has trees or where the building will be adjacent to the trees, you need a tree survey to ascertain the safety of the building and its occupants. On the other hand, a tree survey can be conducted to prevent a protected tree from being cut down. This is done based on the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

The tree survey information collected can be used in a number of ways. For instance, the landscape designer can use the information to come up with computer designs on how the land should be developed. The drafts from a reliable tree survey tend to be more accurate because a lot of factors are put into consideration.

Depending on the information collected, a landscape designer might decide to keep some of the trees to increase the value of the property. However, the trees that cannot be removed by law can be incorporated into the design to be a part of the entire project. This is important because the trees become a part of the overall landscape instead of standing alone or being neglected.

A tree survey can also point out certain hazards depending on the overall health of the trees. For instance, a tree that has been affected by fungi is prone to falling in case there are strong winds; so instead of having such trees in your landscape, it is advisable you remove them to prevent possible accidents.

Finally, tree surveys should be conducted by qualified and experienced arborist only. The professional will explain everything you are supposed to know in a way you will understand. When carrying out the survey, they tag the trees with special tags and numbers for further use and reference. If you would like to know about the survey of a certain tree, you can use these tags and a summary table as prepared by the arborist.


tree health


How much does a tree survey cost?

The cost of a tree survey differs greatly from one person to another because there are factors that determine the overall cost. The arborist will have to visit your property, examine a tree and produce a report of the survey. The distance and location of your property, the number of trees to be surveyed, their species and tools needed are some of the factors that can determine the cost.

To have an accurate estimate, you will have to speak to an experienced arborist. However, ensure that they have all relavant qualifications, experience and a valid insurance cover before hiring or consider hiring them for tree survey services.