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What Is A BS5837 Tree Survey

  • Posted by:
  • Admin
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  • BS5837, Tree Surgery, Arboricultural Survey
  • Posted date:
  • 14-04-2022
What Is A BS5837 Tree Survey

What Is A BS5837 Tree Survey? Arborescence Tree Care offer trusted tree surgery services throughout Northampton, Milton Keynes, Bedford. This article looks at what is included in a BS5837 Tree Survey, who can carry out the survey and why it is required.

What is a BS5837 Tree Survey?

When contemplating a development or construction plan on any land in the UK that contains trees, the developers must first undergo the obligatory BS5837 Tree Survey. 

The architect, land developer, builder, engineer, town planner or whoever is in charge of the development must abide by this British Standard for Trees regarding design, destruction and construction. 

The BS5837 surveys allow local planning authorities to assess any potential impacts of construction on the trees during development. 

The current British Standard for Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition and Construction (BS 5837) was published by British Standard Institution Ltd. 

(BSI) In April 2012, superseding the older BS 5837 (2005). Furthermore, the BSI issued the BS 3998 (2010)- "Recommendations for Tree Work", which similarly focuses on the condition of specific trees and highlights the importance of trees as a living organism before initiating surveying, planning or work on trees.

In 1924, the International Society of Arboriculture was established in the USA, now standing as a prominent professional body in the UK with members and affiliates around the globe. 

Arborescence Tree Care is proud to be a member of the ISA, ensuring technical knowledge and practical experience in Tree surveying and more. Our staff have ongoing training to remain up-to-date with new technologies and industry information. 

How Much Does A Tree Survey Cost UK?

What Does a BS5837 Tree Survey Involve?

Initially, a Tree Constraints Plan should be used to accurately plot and document the current health of all trees on the site to be developed. 

The survey is critical as it ensures the healthiest trees are kept and that the correct recommendations are given in regards to removing trees. 

The retention or removal of a tree is based on its current condition, and the quality of the tree is measured using Classes A, B, C, or U. 

A being the highest quality tree with an expected lifespan of at least 40 years, whilst U distinguishes the trees in a poor condition with limited retention possibilities. 

The best way to protect the retained trees' roots and branches are detailed in the exhaustive BS5837 survey. 

If roots become damaged during construction, the retained trees could become unhealthy, so it is vital to map a Root Protection Zone around each remaining tree. 

The first stage of the survey is often called the 'Tree Constraints Plan'; this maps the trees in the development area. 

Additionally, a completed Topographical survey should highlight the natural and man-made features of the terrain, including permanent features like buildings or streams and land elevations, anything that could impact design and construction processes. 

An Arboricultural Impact Assessment report can then be compiled containing recommendations to retain healthy trees and protect them from damage. 

An Arboricultural Method Statement divulges how this can be achieved in various attainable steps. 

What is a BS5837 Tree Survey? Northampton, Milton Keynes, Bedford

BS5837 Tree Survey Terms Explained

The BS5837 Tree Survey may seem like a collection of confusing codes and calculations to people not in the ecology or housing development sector. For anyone researching into the area with limited experience, it may seem unclear what Tree survey is used for and how the data is compiled. 

With any luck, this short introduction to the BS5837 Tree Survey is concise and clear enough for any newcomer to the industry, offering clarification on why exactly a tree survey is needed and what it encompasses. 

Below, the survey is split into three simple stages, although the exact process can vary slightly from site to site. 

-Tree Survey Plan 

Simply the 'Tree Survey Plan' entails a comprehensive plan depicting the location of every single tree in the established zone, allowing easier investigation later on.


A unique reference code is given for each tree, next ensues a 10 step schedule to note the details of each tree. These are as follows...

1. Scientific and/or Common name for each species.

2. The height of every tree must be measured in metres

3. The Stem Diameter (cm) is measured from 1.5 above ground level

4. Any branch spread either North, South, East or West

5. Categories the Age Class, i.e. Young, Semi-Mature, Over-Mature or Veteran

6. The Structural and Physiological state of each tree, including its health and defects

7. Initial management propositions

8. The tree's 'useful life.'

9. A Tree Quality Assessment- uses data collected above to categorise trees for removal or retention

Tree Constraints Plan

The following information is included in the 'Tree Constraints Plan'; this plan is used to maximise available space on the site, without excessive damage to trees. 

  • Position and crown spread
  • Potential further growth of crown, height and root space
  • Tree Quality Review
  • Root Protection Area
  • The tree's daily Shade footprint, Inc. future growth prospects

Who needs an Arboricultural Survey?

Anyone who is planning to make modifications to personal or public land that contains or is close to trees must first complete a BS5837 Tree Survey, otherwise known as an Arboricultural Survey. 

Predominantly, the survey is required by larger residential developers, yet individual homeowners desiring to change their property should also conduct the survey when considering an extension or using an architect, for example. 

Without a completed Arboricultural Survey being compiled before the planning process, existing trees can be forgotten, leading to a disorganised and chaotic development. 

What Does a BS5837 Tree Survey Involve? Northampton, Milton Keynes, Bedford

 How Much Does a BS5837 Tree Survey Cost?

The cost of a BS5837 Tree Survey can vary depending on various aspects of the planned development, including the number of trees, the site location and the difficulty of the planned project. 

An approximate starting price for a standard BS5837 Tree Survey is £295, although independent surveyors may charge less. Furthermore, individual trees can be surveyed on a cost per tree basis when necessary. 

The additional Arboricultural Impact Assessment (AIA) costs roughly £200, again depending on the dimensions and complexity of the development. Although many companies offer both the initial Tree Survey and AIA in package deals, costing around £400. 

How Does BS5837 Tree Protection Work?

An Arboriculture's should assess the project and development area before a proposed layout is finalised to see which trees enrich the project and which need removing. 

After the preliminary tree survey and impact inspection, an inclusive Tree Protection Plan should be compiled, highlighting the planned protection in place for healthy trees on the development site. 

There is a dedicated 'Tree Protection Fencing' in accordance with BS 5837, which should be used; its heavy-duty scaffold frame is driven into the ground with welded mesh panels being attached. 

This kind of fencing should be sturdy enough to withstand the construction activity and machinery while remaining affordable. The type of fencing required for each unique project should be stated during the Tree Survey.

If you want assistance in safely removing a tree from your property or would like to book an evaluation or assessment, please contact our professional team of arborists today.

We offer tree felling, tree surveys and tree removal in Northampton, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Are you looking for tree surgery in Northampton, Milton Keynes or Bedford? Get in touch with our experienced tree expert today to discus any of the tree services below.