Employing tree (arboricultural) consultants and contractors

What is arboriculture?

Arboriculture may be defined as the cultivation, care and management of individual trees, groups of trees and woodland primarily for their visual amenity - as opposed to timber production.

What is an arboricultural contractor?

An arboricultural contractor specialises in the carrying out of tree pruning or felling. They are sometimes known as arborists or tree surgeons.

What does an arboricultural contractor do?

He/she will provide the following main services:

  • Act as an agent - checking to see if your trees are protected and making tree work applications on your behalf.
  • Carry out pruning and felling of trees.
  • Carry out stump removal or kill stumps.
  • Carry out tree planting.

What does an arboricultural consultant do?

Normally qualified to a higher level than contractors, the consultant will provide impartial advice on the condition of the tree, prepare specifications for tree management, represent you in any legal proceedings and liaise with other professionals where necessary.

Where can I find a tree contractor/consultant?

Look at the Arboricultural Associations lists. Alternatively, look in the Yellow Pages under the heading 'tree work' and you will find them listed in alphabetical order.

Telephone the one you like the look of and ask him/her to come and give you a quote. It is always advisable to obtain 2 or 3 quotes as they may vary considerably. You should be clear on what is required eg whether all materials are to be removed from site by the contractor.

Tree contractors do not usually charge for the initial visit, consultants may. You should check this when you first make contact.

If consent is needed for the work proposed eg the trees are included in a Conservation Area or a tree Preservation Order the consultant may offer to make the application for you (they may charge for this). If you prefer to you can make your own application and enclose the consultant/contractors report with your application. .

How do I decide which contractor/consultant to choose?

The Council does not produce a list of approved contractors. A leaflet is produced by the Arboricultural Association and is available online.

You may wish to obtain written quotations and ask to see their insurance cover, qualifications, membership of trade associations (eg Arboricultural Association, International Society of Arboriculture) and references from previous jobs.

Working on trees can be hazardous, contractors should always use suitable equipment and protection and have enough staff on site to ensure that the job is done safely.

I sometimes get leaflets and flyers advertising tree works posted through my letter box or people calling at my door. Should I employ these people?

We strongly advise that you do not employ door knockers, and ignore leaflets and flyers advertising tree work unless you can check them out from the details given e.g. a valid and checkable address, a landline telephone number, written qualifications and insurance – not photocopies which they can produce and be checked, written quotations and no pressure for an instant decision.

Itinerant tree workers are unlikely to have had any formal training and little knowledge of tree physiology or the law in relation to trees. They commonly have no business address and operate from a mobile phone. They may say that they have got the Councils permission or approval to work on your trees but they never have.

They generally do not give written quotations and are reported to increase the price demanded once having done the work. Their prices are often excessive and they are likely to demand immediate cash payments, sometimes in advance. They are wholly unregulated and are best avoided completely. If in doubt check them out before agreeing to any work.

If you feel pressured or threatened by a contractor call 999 for Police assistance.

Please do not believe people who say they are from or act for the Council or have Council approval to do work to your trees. Even if they look official always ask to see proof of their identity.

Our identity cards include the Council's name and Logo and the name and title of the officer. They are a plastic card similar in size and shape to a credit card. They have a black strip along the bottom of the card and a Serial Number on the back.

All Council staff will show you their photo ID. If you have any doubts about this please do not let them into your house and call 01785 619000 to check their identity.

We publish advice on a range of matters including through Frequently Asked Questions on the following topics:

Please note that information contained on this and other pages relating to trees is written for the benefit of tree owners, the general public and amenity groups and answers some of the most common questions relating to trees. It is for guidance only and is not a statement of the law. You should consult a solicitor if you are unsure of your legal rights or obligations.

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