Choosing a tree surgeon (sometimes called an arborist or arboriculturist) can be a difficult task and if not done properly could lead to injury, damage to property and irrevocable damage to your trees.
The Council is unable to recommend a tree surgeon but can provide some advice on how to choose a competent arborist/tree surgeon.
Why choose a professional tree surgeon?
Tree work is a dangerous and highly skilled operation. Choosing a tree surgeon is something that must be done with great care. Picking the wrong arborist could lead to:
- Injury to people
- Damage to property
- Irreversible damage to your trees that have taken many years to grow.
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 who hold adequate insurance.
How can you tell if they are the “real deal”?
Anyone can call themselves a tree surgeon and advertise themselves as such. Unfortunately, an advert alone is no guarantee of the quality of work that the tree surgeon might do, or that it will be carried out safely.
Competent tree surgeons will have certificates (National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC)) which show that they have been trained and assessed. They will often have other academic qualifications in arboriculture and will use safety equipment to protect you, your property and themselves.
Reputable tree care companies will be pleased to show you copies of their insurance (Employers' and Public Liability), qualifications and professional memberships and will work to nationally recognised standards (E.g. BS 3998 (2010)). Asking for and getting a written quotation for the work to be carried out is also a good idea.
When the tree surgeon comes to look at the work you want done ask lots of questions. Good tree surgeons have a great deal of knowledge about different species of trees, when and how to work on them, and the pests and diseases that can affect them. They will visit you to discuss your requirements and provide a quotation without obligation.
Always ask for a quotation not an estimate. An estimate is just that, an estimate; the price may change during the job. Professional Tree Surgeons will be happy to provide a quotation without obligation.
Get the quotation in writing and check that it includes disposal of arising’s and that the site will be left reasonably clean and tidy.
You also need to know whether VAT is payable. If you wish to keep the logs or wood chips tell the tree surgeon while he is quoting, it may mean a reduction in the cost of the job.
If you need a tree root removed after a tree has been felled as opposed to leaving the stump, make sure this is included on the quotation. Never pay until the job is complete.
For alternative advice on the selection of a tree surgeon try the following websites:
Prior to any tree work being carried out it is important to check whether the tree is legally protected or not.
If a tree is protected there are certain legal obligations that must be fulfilled prior to any work beginning. Your tree surgeon may well check the legal status of your tree for you or you can contact the Landscape Officer directly.
For more information on the laws that might be protecting your tree please see our Tree Preservation Guidelines leaflet.
Accreditation of arborists
In the UK there are two voluntary schemes certifying the competence of arborists through examination and regular reassessment or continuing professional development.
Arboricultural Association (AA)
The Arboricultural Association maintains an annual Directory of quality assured Arboricultural contracting companies. Contractors (and consultants) in the Directory are regularly assessed for their health and safety procedures, office, and business practices as well as their quality of tree work. They will display the AA collective mark logo. Please check with the Association that the contractor’s approval is current, either through list of contractors on the Arboricultural Association's web site or by phone on 01794 368717.
International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)
Individual arborists may be certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. 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 arborists’ approval is current through the list of ISA certified arborists on their website. It is important to remember however that other arborists may be equally competent but have chosen not to take part in these schemes.
Competent tree surgeons will at the very minimum have certificates (National Proficiency Tests Council (NPTC) which show that they have been trained and assessed. They will often have other academic qualifications in arboriculture and will use safety equipment to protect you, your property and themselves.
For a more in-depth look at qualifications please look at:
- The Arboricultural Association's guide to qualifications and careers in arboriculture
- The Tree Care-Info consumers guide to arboricultural qualifications
Arboricultural (and related) organisations
Tel: 01242 522 152
Fax: 01241 577 766
International Society of Arboriculture
148 Hydes Road
Tel: 01215 568 302
Forestry Contracting Association
Tel: 08700 427 999
Tel: 08453 450 055
Institute of Chartered Foresters
59 George Street
Tel: 01312 401 425
Tel: 08457 078 007
City & Guilds NPTC
Tel: 02476 857 3