Tree surveys - keep your trees healthy and your health and safety up to date!

When it comes to trees on your site, it is important to make sure that they are as safe as is reasonably possible. Defective trees can compromise your on site health and safety if they are not properly surveyed for potential hazards. A damaged tree can also limit the potential for wildlife, if their natural habitat is compromised. That’s why it’s essential to bring in a certified, qualified expert who can examine your trees, providing an accurate report to ensure you are legally covered.

Book a tree survey today and ensure the safety of the trees on your premises.

Tom Francis using a Resistograph on a Beech tree

Tom Francis using a Resistograph on a Beech tree.

Tree Risk

Trees are important for many reasons and are generally very safe. In the UK the approximate risk (annually) of an individual being killed by a falling tree is 1 in 10,000,000.

For some perspective, the annual risk of death from a road accident is 1 in 16,800. and by lightning strike it is 1 in 18,700,000.

Trees are living organisms that naturally lose branches or fall completely, so it can never be stated that a tree is 100% safe.

In order for a tree to be a hazard and for there to be a risk of harm / damage, there needs to be a ‘target’, eg. people / property.

In 2011 the National Tree Safety Group (NTSG) published: Common Sense Risk Management of Trees, underpinned by 5 key principles:

1. Trees provide a wide variety of benefits to society

2. Trees are living organisms that naturally lose branches or fall

3. The overall risk to human safety is extremely low

4. Tree owners have a duty of care

5. Tree owners should take a balanced and proportionate approach to tree safety management.

The aim of a tree survey / inspection is mainly to identify potential hazards, but there are different types of surveys:

Tree Survey / Inspection

Incorporating a Risk Assessment, Tree Surveys can form part of a longer term management policy, recording a broad range of observations and measurements, which can be compared from survey to survey to monitor for significant changes, if required.

Tree Risk Assessment

Under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957, the landowner has a duty of care to ensure that any visitor will be reasonably safe while spending time on their land. A risk assessment can help to identify potential hazards, from a range of mechanical and biological defects that could predispose a tree / part of a tree to failure, to environmental factors that could have health implications further down the line if they are not addressed.

Decay detection

Decay can arise in trees for a number of reasons and can (but not always) compromise the structural integrity of the wood and cause failure. Knowing when and where to use decay detection is important in order to obtain accurate results that will help the client understand their position, and give the tree the best chance for a long life. The ‘Resistograph’ is a piece of equipment which drills a small hole into the tree, providing live feedback on the integrity of the wood. The ‘Sonic Tomograph’ uses sound waves to build up a 2 dimensional image of the cross section of the tree and any potential decay inside.

Our team of experts with produce reports that provide a clear, concise evaluation of risks with recommendations for mitigation of any hazards that may be discovered.

We will also ensure that you know where you stand legally and if any laws, orders, acts or regulations apply in your particular case.

What happens during a tree survey?

A tree survey encompasses a thorough inspection conducted by a professional surveyor. The survey will help identify any diseases in the trees, as well as any hazards that the trees pose to your site, the public and wildlife.

The key components of a tree risk survey typically involve:

  1. Tree Identification, Size, Age, Class – This will help with understanding how best to look after the trees on your property as different species respond in different ways. This information will also provide a record for future surveys.
  2. Tree Health Analysis – A comprehensive evaluation of the overall health of the trees is conducted. The surveyor will come to your site and examine all the requested trees individually and in detail. The surveyor will be checking for anything that may impact the tree’s stability, including signs of pests, diseases, decay or other structural weaknesses that may predispose a tree to failure. The tree will be surveyed from ground level, examining all parts of the tree, including root plate area, trunk, stems and canopy, to get a clear overall picture of the tree’s health.
  3. Aerial Inspections – If the ground based inspection indicates a potential issue further up the tree that warrants investigation, the surveyors are qualified to carry out aerial inspections should the need arise. This can involve the use of the ‘Resistograph’ if need be.
  4. On Site Tree Protection Assessment – The surveyor will also identify potential site related risks to the tree, including the impact of nearby buildings, roads, carparks or other human / wildlife related interaction.
  5. Tree Survey Recommendations – If / when the relevant issues are identified during the tree survey the consultant will write a report with recommendations  for remedial works if need be. This will take into account the benefits of the tree to the surroundings, wildlife etc., as well as the the safety aspect.

Various recommendations may include:

  • Tree surgery / pruning – crown reduction, crown lift, removal of dead wood.
  • Relocating / removing potential causes of stress for the tree – e.g. footpaths, carparks, compost heaps, chemical spillages which can all have detrimental effects on the root system.
  • Improving drainage – waterlogged sites can affect the ability of the root system to function properly and cause stress to the tree.
  • ‘Bracing’ parts of the tree can be used in certain situations to reduce the likelihood of parts splitting and failing
  • Tree removal – if no other option is viable.

Our tree survey expert will ensure that everything possible is done to keep your site and trees healthy and safe.

Why you need a tree survey - Fallen Larch due to decay to Phaeolus schweinitzii fungus.

Fallen Larch due to decay to Phaeolus schweinitzii fungus.

Why do you need a tree survey?

A tree survey (sometimes called a tree hazard or tree risk survey) is an essential part of your on site maintenance. 

Impartial risk advice and information can ensure your trees and site as a whole are protected against future damage and potential injury or accidents. This, in turn, can help you prepare budgets for the future, create accurate health and safety reports and ultimately limit liability, all while protecting your tree’s health.

Furthermore, regular tree surveys can help protect the natural wildlife on your site, and encourage healthy arboreal habitats to flourish (read all about how you can protect your trees when it comes to bird nesting season in our helpful article). 

Tree surveys for planning / construction

Tree surveys for planning play a crucial role in informed decision-making for property development. Conducted by professionals, these surveys involve identifying tree species, assessing health and evaluating structural integrity, much like standard tree hazard surveys.

However, by identifying the types of trees and their conditions, a tree planning survey will include recommendations for protective measures to take during construction. It will also provide insights for strategic tree maintenance or removal, to ensure the construction on your site doesn’t pose a safety risk to the trees present. By integrating these findings, tree surveys for planning promote sustainable development, minimising risks and fostering a balance between construction goals and the preservation of natural habitats and assets. 

Included bark leading to stem splitting on Sycamore.

Included bark leading to stem splitting on Sycamore.

How often should I book a tree hazard survey?

Tree hazard survey or tree risk survey frequency depends on a number of factors including the age and condition of the trees on your site, whether or not your site has public access and if there have been any major events taking place on the site. For example, if there has been invasive building work, intense weather conditions or accidents / injuries on the premises due to falling branches etc, it would be advisable to book regular tree surveys in the calendar.

If you’re unsure how often a tree survey is recommended for your particular site, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts now.

How do I book my tree risk survey?

Our team have excellent knowledge, experience and reviews

If you’d like the trees on your Northampton site surveyed, please get in touch with our expert tree surveyor today!