BS5837 Tree Survey

If you are an architect, land developer or townplanner and you are planning to develop on land that contains trees, it is likely that you are going to need an BS5837 Tree Survey.

Below we have put together, a handy step by step guide to show the process of carrying out a tree survey to BS5837.

What is a BS5837 Tree Survey?

BS5837 is the British Standard for Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations. The latest version was published in 2012 and applies to all trees that could be affected during the design, demolition or construction phase of a development.

Do I need an Arboricultural Survey?

If you are planning to make changes to your property or land which is close to or contains trees then you will need a BS5837 Tree Survey.  People who tend to require these surveys are large residential developers.  However, it can also apply to individual homeowners who wish to make alteration to their properties such as an extension or modifications by an architect.

At JCA our specialist team can conduct an Arboricultural survey based on your specific requirements

Trees and Development

Topographical Survey

A Topographical Survey is prepared/obtained and is used to identify and map the contours of the ground and all relevant existing features on the surface of the site (e.g Trees, buildings, streets, walkways, manholes, utility poles, retaining walls etc.).

The finished product is a scaled plan of the site which shows all the relevant site features. This forms the base line plan which everything is drawn against/onto.

Tree Surveys in Accordance with BS5837:2012 Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations

The initial survey provides the baseline tree data from which a Tree Constraints Plan is prepared showing the position of the trees/groups, canopy spreads (colour coded depending on the retention category) and root protection areas.  Should any trees be identified within the survey that require removal/pruning for arboricultural/safety reasons, this will be detailed in the report.

The tree constraints plan should be used to aid the designs which should aim to retain the highest quality trees (Retention A and B) by designing the proposals so that they avoid encroaching into the tree canopies or root protection areas.

Arboricultural Surveys

Arboricultural Impact Assessment (AIA)

The tree data is overlaid onto the proposal designs and an assessment of the tree impacts is undertaken.

The AIA discusses the impacts of the proposals on trees and vice versa and highlights which trees require removal and which can be retained.  The purpose of this report is to essentially foresee any areas of concern that the council may have with regards to the trees and address these before the application is submitted.  Where issues arise, advice will be offered on how these can be best overcome or where mitigation measures should be considered.

Arboricultural Method Statements (AMS)

Once the application has been submitted and planning approval granted, a number of planning conditions will be listed, one of which will be to prepare an AMS.

An Arboricultural Method Statement details which trees are to be removed/retained and how the retained trees will be safeguarded during the post construction (including the installation of temporary fencing etc.)

Tree Planting Scheme

A tree planting scheme may be a required planning condition which needs to be satisfied.  Alternatively, the preparation of a Tree Planting Scheme is advised whenever tree removals are required to facilitate the proposals.

JCA may recommend new tree planting at the AIA stage, to help mitigate the loss of trees which are to be removed to facilitate the proposed development.

If you think you may need an BS5837 Tree Survey for your development, you can find out more information here. Alternatively, please give us a call on 01422 376335 and speak to one of our Arboricultural Consultants or email

Not sure where you stand on an arboricultural or ecological related issues? At JCA our specialist team are here to help you, contact us today!

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