Why is BS 5837 ImportantThe BS5837 standard is used widely in the UK by professional arborists and tree surgeons as a guide when performing a tree survey on a property or area of land. It relates to design, demolition, and construction recommendations of trees.

The latest version was published in 2012 and applies to all trees that could be affected in the design, demolition, and construction process.

Compliance with the BS5837 is mandatory when considering any development on an area featuring trees, regardless of whether planning permission has been granted or not.

What’s Covered by the BS5837 Standard?

  • The BS5837 Standard covers quite a lot, so we will outline what it entails to give you a better overview.
  • It features an initial topographical survey, along with what it should include. A topographical survey is a spatially accurate depiction of a site that is scaled and detailed according to the spatial considerations, with a summary of the on-site captured data.
  • Tree survey – when it should be carried out, what it should cover, the measurements that need to be taken and how to categorize trees according to quality and value.
  • A calculation of the root protection area, which is a calculated area that is performed to avoid damaging the tree’s root system underneath the ground.
  • Constraints posed by existing trees and factors that need to be considered – again, this helps to prevent further costs down the line.
  • Recommendations for the structural location of trees in the surveyed area.
  • Tree protection measures following demolition.
  • To mitigate both the direct and indirect effects of trees’ design, BS5837 offers guidelines for preparation of an arboricultural impact assessment. It also offers guidelines for the preparation of a tree protection plan. This helps to consider the demolition’s potential effects, as well as the construction phase, to gauge the measures needed to protect the trees.
  • Recommendations for new planting and associated landscape processes.
  • Specifications for tree protection and ground protection barriers and measures, especially after demolition.
  • How the site should be monitored in the future, which is especially relevant to property owners or landscape designers that have knowledge lacking in urban forestry.
  • Guidelines for the preparation of an arboricultural method statement, which details the required methodology for safeguarding trees during demolition and construction, such as avoiding physical damage to the existing trees’ roots.
  • Recommendations for the installation of hardstanding within the root protection area of a tree, as well as special engineering methods to be used for the foundations within the root protection area.
  • Factors to be considered if carrying out underground construction within a tree’s root protection area.
  • Methods for installing underground and above ground services.
  • Factors to consider when working around both newly planted and mature trees. This includes factors such as drainage, soil quality, soil compaction, the use of mulch, the location of hard surfaces, paved areas, any herbicides being used.
  • Finally, pre-development and post-development management of newly planted and existing trees.
  • BS5837 Standard covers the requirements of the soil assessment. This helps to inform decisions regarding root protection areas, new planting, and foundation design, along with tree protection – which is especially important for avoiding further costs down the road if a tree should fall or be ruined due to neglect.

Why is the BS5837 Standard Important?

The BS5837 Standard is important because it standardizes the approach of any demolition, construction, and management of urban trees in a property or area of land. It helps professional tree surgeons and Arboriculturalist’s to stick to guidelines which are easily adaptable to specific circumstances of any given area.

This standard also helps make it easier for tree surgeons to explain the situation of any given site, educating property owners so that they may make informed choices around their site which benefits everybody.

You can read more the BS5837 Standard from the BSI group here.


We recognize that for people newer to the world of urban forestry, it can be a bit confusing and in-depth at times. We hope that this blog has been helpful in explaining what BS5837 Standard is along with why it is important to landscape designers, developers, and property owners.

Always have your tree survey performed by a professional arborist, to ensure that you get the right information explained in an easily digestible way to make informed choices that benefits your site.

Mapscape is a software product underpinned by GIS that helps to expedite and improve the process of tree surveying.

You can register for your free trial here.

Other blog posts to check out:

5 Reasons to use a GIS

5 Benefits of Urban Forestry

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