UKTC Archive

RE: Tree Groups

Subject: RE: Tree Groups
Date: Dec 18 2008 11:14:59
Plotting trees as groups in remote areas is a given.  Let’s focus on 
whether it is sensible to plot trees as groups in “high target 
occupancy” areas.  My response to Mike E's email reads as follows…

One element within your email with which I agree most strongly, is 
your wish to educate clients about reasonableness, in providing a tree 
survey methodology which is less onerous. I agree that tree risk 
assessment must be eating into local authority coffers, possibly to the 
detriment of trees and personally, I want local authorities to divert 
costs towards planting more trees and not getting too caught-up in 
looking after and worrying about the ones that they already have. I 
think that local authorities' enhanced awareness of trees and 
misinterpretation, is becoming detrimental to our urban and bucolic 
landscapes.  It would be interesting to know what proportion of a tree 
officer’s budget is spent on databases, picuses and surveys.  And what 
percentage is spent on the establishment of new trees and community 

I admire your courage, if I understand correctly, that you record the 
worst tree within the group which falls within a client's risk 
tolerance. This is because I think that, whilst we can use our 
professional judgement and experience in tree surveying, arboriculture 
is not an exact science and, I agree with your premise, different 
practitioners/ surveyors advocate different levels of risk.  
Ultimately, none of us are infallible and quite often, tree failure is 
brought about through events which the surveyor was not able to predict 
at the time (eg. weather events, a random event which increases 
frequency of site use, internal stresses not evident at the time of the 
survey, etc).  My concern is that within a group of trees, a tree might 
fail for which there is little recorded information, potentially 
exposing the surveyor to claims in negligence.  This doesn’t mean that 
I think that all trees should be surveyed individually and I admire 
your approach where you seem to suggest that the answer to this is to 
provide robust support for the survey methodology, as opposed to the 
actual tree data recorded.

The issues surrounding plotting trees as individuals or groups doesn’t 
ever really apply to the remote copse or spinney, but it is the 
application of this process within the urban environment which requires 
greatest consideration.  One of my biggest bug-bears is the conflict 
between tree risk assessment and veteran tree management.  Or, if we 
move away from this extreme, large, mature or late mature trees within 
heavily built up areas (there is probably one you can think of, 
possibly outside your local church).  These trees are often the most 
visually dramatic and will often display heavy branches overhanging 
high target occupancy areas.  And it is my growing belief that more 
than any other, it is tree risk assessment which poses the greatest 
threat to these trees, because it is only a matter of time before a 
different surveyor, possibly with a greater aversion to risk, comes and 
surveys that tree…

----Original Message----
Date: 18/12/2008 11:00 
To: "UK Tree Care"<>
Subj: RE: Tree Groups

I don't disagree with this Paul. It's a judgement thing. It's just, 
if you're standing there looking at a defective tree then why not 
make a
note ... Otherwise, what are you doing standing there looking at a 
where you expect no-one to go?

Ron Howe
Planning Tree Officer
Mole Valley District Council
Direct Tel. 01306 XXX XXX

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Hawksford [] 
Sent: Wed, 17 December 2008 23:36
To: UK Tree Care
Subject: Tree Groups


I understand to a point your defect led approach, but ask you to
consider the probability of significant harm from a tree on a piece 
land that is rarely used. That probability may be one in a billion or
more. Are we as Arborists not independently objective in our 
and therefore suggesting that financial resources are better spent

My lord, is that the time........

Paul Hawksford
Principal Arboriculturist


260 Doury Road


County Antrim
Northern Ireland
BT43 6TU

T:  +44 (0) 28 2XXX XXXX
M: +44 (0) 7746 XXXXXX  


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