What is arboriculture?
The science and practice of the cultivation, establishment and management of amenity trees for the benefit of society.
Arboriculture is to trees what horticulture is to other plants, in that it usually refers to the care of trees grown or maintained for their aesthetic or environmental value, rather than the value of their timber or fruit.
It differs from forestry and woodland management in both the methods of tree management used and the overall objectives of tree planting and development.
In a nutshell, Arboriculture is the growing, planting, science and maintenance of trees not grown for timber or fruit. Arboriculture must also include the study of tree safety and the management of risk, as trees grown for their aesthetic and environmental value (also known as amenity trees) are normally in much closer proximity to people.
There are areas of crossover between Arboriculture, Forestry, Woodland Management and even Horticulture. Much of the science, tree mechanics, pests and diseases do not differ between these disciplines, however the approach, objectives and style of management is where the true difference lies.
Find out more
Young Tree Maintenance
Arboricultural Association Technical Director John Parker runs over some important basic young tree maintenance.
Emerald Ash Borer Agrilus planipennis Ash
Asian Longhorn Beetle Anoplophora glabripennis Many
Elm Zig-Zag Sawfly Aproceros leucopoda Elm & Others
Oak Wilt Ceratocystis fagacearum Oak
Canker Stain of Plane Ceratocystis platani London Plane
Sweet Chestnut Blight Cryphonectria parasitica Sweet Chestnut
Red Band Needle Blight Dothistroma septosporum Pine
Chalara Dieback of Ash Hymenoscyphus fraxineus Ash
Larch Tree Disease Phytophthora ramorum Larch & Others
Shoot Blight of Cedar Sirococcus tsugae Cedar
Pine Processionary Moth Thaumetopoea pityocampa Pine
Oak Processionary Moth Thaumetopoea processionea Oak
Phony Disease of Peach Xylella fastidiosa Many
KEY: (As of Autumn 2018)
The Forestry Commission has also produced the following information about pests and diseases and associated biosecurity. Click a link below to find out more.
For more information on pests and diseases and how we can help reduce their spread, take a look at their website: www.gov.uk/guidance/prevent-the-introduction-and-spread-of-tree-pests-and-diseases
Information contained on this page are © copyright of the Forestry Commission and are used with their permission.
Tree Selection, Planting and Maintenance
Selecting the right tree for the right place
Planting a tree in your garden is a decision requiring forethought and planning. Consideration must be given to the surrounding landscape and buildings, space available, soil type and location of the particular site.
Careful thought will help to ensure that an appropriate species is selected for the particular location, so giving the tree the best chance of successful establishment and future growth.
The Trees and Design Action Group (TDAG) offer comprehensive guidance with their resource Tree Species Selection for Green Infrastructure: A Guide for Specifiers, which includes information for over 280 species on their use-potential, size and crown characteristics, natural habitat, environmental tolerance, ornamental qualities, potential issues to be aware of, and notable varieties.
It is essential that young trees are given every opportunity to survive planting. Poor planting practices can result in long-term problems and even the death of the tree.
Maintenance in the first few years following planting is crucial to ensure establishment. Young trees need TLC:
- Tending – check stakes, ties, guards and prune out broken and diseased branches
- Loosen ties and remove the stake altogether if the tree is stable
- Clear vegetation from around the base
- Add water when required
Most trees do not require regular pruning but there are occasions when tree work is necessary. You must take great care in deciding who you will take advice from.
Trees can suffer ill health from pests and diseases and or as a result of climatic or environmental changes.
If your tree looks unwell, appears different to normal or you consider that tree works might be required, you can obtain guidance and advice from the following sources:
- A competent Arboricultural Consultant
- A competent Arboricultural Contractor
- Download this leaflet – ‘Tree Work: Choosing your tree surgeon (arborist)’
- Download this leaflet – ‘Guide to Tree Pruning’
- Visit our Help & Advice section of this website
How can I get a Tree Preservation Order made on a tree that I think is at risk of being felled or damaged?
Your local council is responsible for making Tree Preservation Orders (TPO). You should contact your local authority and speak to the tree officer or someone in the planning department who should determine whether the making of a TPO is appropriate.
More detailed information on TPOs: www.gov.uk/guidance/tree-preservation-orders-and-trees-in-conservation-areas#Flowchart-1-Making-and-confirming-TPO
Can I stop my neighbour building close to my tree?
You may be able to depending on the importance of the tree, the nature of the building proposed and distance between the proposed building and the tree in question.
If the building work proposed requires planning consent, all trees which could potentially be affected by the development (including those on adjoining property) should be assessed by an arboricultural consultant in accordance with British Standard BS5837:2012 Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations, and details of this assessment submitted with the planning application. The Local Planning Authority should consider how the proposed development will affect trees in accordance with the same document and, if the process works correctly, this should prevent unacceptable damage from occurring to your tree. If you are concerned, you should instruct an arboricultural consultant to assist and if necessary, make a formal objection to the planning application within the statutory timeframe.
If the work proposed does not require planning consent, it may be less easy for you to influence. If your tree is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or is located within a conservation area, legislation relating to tree protection overrides that of permitted development rights, and developers will risk prosecution if protected trees are damaged. If you consider that your tree provides sufficient public amenity value to warrant protection by a TPO, you can make a formal request to the Local Planning Authority to place a TPO on your tree. An arboricultural consultant can advise you on these matters.
- British Standard BS5837:2012 Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction – Recommendations
- AA Tree Protections Brief Guide
- AA Registered Consultants
- More detailed information on TPOs: www.gov.uk/guidance/tree-preservation-orders-and-trees-in-conservation-areas#Flowchart-1-Making-and-confirming-TPO
Choosing your Tree Surgeon
Good Climbing Practice
Bad Climbing Practice
If tree work is not done properly it could lead to:
- INJURY to people*
- DAMAGE to property*
- SERIOUS HARM to your trees that have taken many years to grow…
All through ill-advised and badly executed tree work.
*Potentially you may be liable is a 3rd party is affected.
Questions you should ask an arborist
Ask for a quote**
(a reputable arborist will always give a positive response)
- Are you insured?
If YES. please show evidence of insurance – Employers’ Liability & Public Liability (recommended minimum of £5 million).
- Do you work to a British Standard?
If YES, which one?
Should be BS3998: 2010 ‘Tree Work – Recommendations’.
- What qualifications do you and your staff hold? (ask to see copies)
Compulsory: MIUST have NPTC/Lantra Awards*** certificates for chainsaw use.
Recommended: Certificates for other skills and machines. Arboricultural knowledge e.g. National Certificates and Diplomas in Arboriculture.
- Will you provide a written quotation?
If NO, reject the contractor.
- Are you a member of a professional organisation?
Membership does not guarantee work standards but does show a degree of commitment.
- Can you provide me with the phone number of a referee who can show me some of your work?
If YES, follow up the reference.
**Obtain more than one quote, ideally 3.
***NPTC and Lantra Awards are national organisations that assess competence of people using chainsaws and other arboricultural equipment. Competent arborists will be able to show you an A4 sized certificate or plastic ID card if requested.
Tree work operations (arboriculture) require a high degree of technical competence, supported by training and experience. For these reasons tree work should only be undertaken by well-trained, competent arborists experience at the type of work being undertaken, e.g. tree pruning/tree removal.
Choosing the quote that suits you
When you receive your quotations check they include the following before deciding which one to accept:
- Reference to BS3998: 2010 ‘Tree Work – Recommendations’
- Clear and full details of the work to be undertaken (the specification).
- What will happen to the timber and brushwood?
- What will happen with the tree stumps?
- Whether VAT is included.
- Who will be responsible for obtaining permission if the trees are protected?
- What steps will be taken to protect you and your property (the risk assessment)?
Be aware that there may be a limited quote validity period.
Stage 3: Consumer protection
In the UK there are two recognised schemes certifying the competence of arborists through examination and regular re-assessment or Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
The Arboricultural Association (AA) maintains an online Directory of quality assured tree surgery businesses. they are regularly assessed for their health and safety procedures, office and business practices, including customer care, as well as their quality of tree work. they will display the AA ARB Approved Contractor logo.
Check whether the contractor’s approval is current on the Arboricultural Association website via the ‘Find a Tree Surgeon’ link.
Individual arborists may be certified by the International Society or Arboriculture (ISA). The ISA assesses the individual for their knowledge and ability. Certified arborists will display the ISA Certified Arborist logo.
Please check with the Society that the arborist’s approval is current, throught the ISA website www.isa-arbor.com/.
Other arborists may be equally competent. If they do not subscribe to either of the above schemes you should take more care to follow up the advice contained in Stage 1 & 2 above.
Be SAFE, Be SURE
There is no shortage of people and companies offering tree work services, but how do you choose between them? The Health and Safety Executive says,
clients engaging contractors to undertake tree work need to carefully check they have the necessary skill and competence. Tree work is hazardous; to be done safely it requires properly trained and experienced people… Arboricultural trade associations can supply details of approved contractors and information to help you choose a competent tree work contractor…
It is equally important that advice given in respect to trees is correct and from reliable professionals. People and companies in this directory have satisfied the Arboricultural Association that they are competent to provide the consultancy and contractor services as described.
Recognising an ARB Approved Contractor
A great way to recognise a competent Tree Surgeon is to look out for the ARB Approved Contractor Shield. The shield is relatively new and chances are your local Tress Surgeon may still be displaying the old logo. Indeed, just because you see the old logo it does not mean they are not approved, just go to our directory page to check out a Tree Surgeon to give you peace-of-mind. We only show Tree Surgeons who have been approved and who have been assessed.
People at risk:
No head injury protection (helmet)
No eyesight protection
No hearing protection
No fall protection (platform, rope and harness etc.)
No cut protection (chainsaw resistant trousers and boots)
No head injury protection (helmet)
No protection from traffic (high visibility clothing, road signing and traffic management)
Pedestrians and residents at risk of being hit by timber
Vehicles at risk of being hit by timber
Damage to fencing and other garden features
Damage to street infrastructure
Damage to a valuable tree
You could be at risk if you employ a tree surgeon or tree advisor who works like this and causes harm, injury or loss to yourself or anyone else.
Spot the difference
No eye protection
No hearing protection
No fall protection
No cut protection
Industrial chainsaw helmet
Full-face visor including eye protection
Ear defenders for hearing protection
Rope and harness for fall protection
Chainsaw trousers / boots for cut protection
Modern chainsaw with safety features
By choosing tree surgeons from this directory you have the security of knowing that each person or company has passed the Arboricultural Association's rigorous and industry recognised standards of safety and tree care. All home/landowners have a responsibility* to engage competent people to work on their property. If you choose to use a contractor not listed in the directory the following checklist can help you establish the contractor's competence.
*Common law duty of care responsibilities and sometimes liabilities under the Occupiers' Liability Acts of 1957 & 1984.