tree surveyUrban trees are a great way of keeping humans connected to nature, helping the environment and improving the economic prospects of an area. The benefits of urban forestry has already been covered extensively. However, before urban trees can be planted, it is common for a tree survey to take place (with the savvy people incorporating a piece of GIS software to help them).

In this post, we’ll be answering ‘what is a tree survey’ to help shed some light on this crucial step of urban forestry.


What Is A Tree Survey?

A tree survey is where an Arboriculturalist or team, conducts a survey on the trees of any given piece of land, whether part of a property or not. The goal of the survey is to assess the area, as well as any trees that have been previously planted. This helps homeowners or property managers to make informed decisions and improve the area.

What Does A Tree Survey Reveal?

A tree survey reveals a lot of useful information, such as:

  • A tree’s physical measurements, for instance height and diameter
  • The number of trees in the area being assessed, with distinguishable reference numbers for each tree
  • Age of the trees (eg. veteran, postmature, mature, semi-mature, young)
  • Overall health of the trees – their structural and physiological condition
  • Life expectancy
  • The crown radii in metres for the north, south, west, and east crowns
  • Management recommendations
  • Species of the tree

Comprehensive tree surveys will ensure that property owners can make informed decisions that benefits all parties, and have an idea of any potential costs related to the maintenance/ future planning of urban trees in the area.

They will also flag up any potential hazards; such as a tree that may be close to falling over at any moment due to tree pests and diseases  such as fungal decay. This can potentially reduce costs associated with trees, as hazards can be spotted early and prevent more expensive work needing to be carried out to deal with a dead tree later.

In some regions, certain trees cannot be cut down as they are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. A tree survey can help to ensure that these are identified and can then be incorporated into the design of any property rather than being chopped down.

Usually, a professional arborist in the UK will work to the British Standard BS 5837. This standard determines which trees should be retained and which should be removed. This standard can be read as a guide, and should be used after the tree survey has been conducted and all of the relevant information is available.

If you are buying a piece of property or land that has trees in it, it is crucial to know whether or not the property is a habitat for endangered species. This can help to know whether or not the trees are likely to have a negative effect on the property, such as subsidence.

Surveys help by displaying volumes of data about the trees in the area and whether the trees or the animals they potentially attract could pose a health and safety risk.

Both individuals who own their home and property owners in more professional settings can benefit from tree surveys. An individual with lots of trees in their personal home could have a tree survey performed at a reasonable rate to further understand the age and type of trees they have as well as any health and safety risks that could be assciated with it. They can also find out about the species that reside on that tree in order to take proper care of the tree and help to make it thrive, not just survive.

Tree enthusiasts typically have tree surveys performed in their garden to do just that, which results in much nicer-looking and healthier gardens for them to be proud of.

For town planners and land developers, tree surveys are crucial in helping them to ensure the trees within their boundaries fulfill all health and safety requirements as well as meet the BS5837 standard in Britain, or the equivalent of that standard in their respective country.

It should go without saying, but it is very important to ensure that your tree survey is performed by a professional arboricultural and ecological consultant. They are trained and educated on how to provide easy to understand information to property developers, local authorities, householders, and designers, and environmental lovers for various reasons.

When Is A Tree Survey Necessary?

A tree survey is usually necessary when any changes are being planned for a property or piece of land. In some areas you will be required by law to perform a tree survey, if trees featured in the area are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

A draft design is much more realistic when the trees of the area have been considered, and not performing one could lead to oversights that result in problems (and financial consequences) later down the line.

Landscape designers know that trees add value to property, and so a tree survey can help them to gauge which trees should be removed and which should stay. If a tree has to be kept, designers can plan around it and incorporate it into the overall design.


A tree survey is a useful tool in identifying the situation in a land or property that you own. It should be considered a crucial part of the entire urban forestry process and it is heavily advised that your tree survey is performed by a professional arborist (or company of them).

A GIS software such as Mapscape can help to expedite the process of a tree survey. We are available to help you with any questions or issues surrounding this.

If you haven’t used a GIS before and not sure what the fuss is about, consider reaching our 5 Reasons to use a GIS article to help inform your decision on implementing GIS software into your tree surveying process.

Register for your free trial here!

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