Find an arboricultural or tree expert
It is important to seek expert advice when applying for planning permission, managing your trees or woodland, ensuring that your trees are not a risk to people or property and investigating potential subsidence claims etc.
Guide to selecting and appointing an arboricultural (tree) consultant
The choice of arboricultural consultants able to undertake work in relation to planning applications or other tree work can be guided by the following principles:
Membership of an appropriate institute or professional association
Many arboricultural consultants are members of the Arboricultural Association, who can provide a list of registered consultants who have been found competent to provide arboricultural consultancy services.
The Institute of Chartered Foresters provides a register of tree professionals who specialise in forest, woodland and tree management and have been vetted for their professionalism, qualifications, and experience.
Where an Environmental Impact Analysis is required, a useful indication of competence of a consultancy or individuals is membership of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.
Knowledge of the local area
Knowledge of the local area is useful in understanding the local soil types, ecology, topography etc and in having good contacts with local contractors and suppliers, for example specialist plant nurseries. It can also lead to a better understanding of local arboricultural policies, constraints and opportunities.
Relevant experience and knowledge
Any arboricultural consultant appointed should be qualified and experienced in the relevant fields. For example, an arboricultural consultant with extensive experience of preparing tree assessments for residential development sites may not have the appropriate expertise to advise on the management of ancient trees.
In house expertise
Not all environmental consultancies have their own in-house tree specialists, so contract arboricultural consultants may be used, particularly on sites that require a multi-skilled approach. It is advisable to find out who the arboricultural consultant will be, and what professional qualifications or relevant expertise he or she possesses.
It is important to ascertain whether the consultant you have appointed has all the appropriate legal documentation, licences and qualifications that are required, both within their profession and for health and safety.
Before you appoint, find out if your expert is based locally and if you will be charged for travelling time and mileage.
Quotations and detailed written proposals
It is always advisable to seek several quotations that include details of the work the consultants would undertake. It may be helpful to ask for a day rate for any additional work that may be needed. Be very clear in explaining what type of output you wish from the consultant - a detailed written report, a verbal report, liaison with the Planning Authority etc. It will then be easier to compare quotations.
Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance should be held by the consultants to cover the costs of any legal liabilities established against them. This is particularly important where the arboricultural consultant is carrying out risk assessments of trees.
References and recommendations
It may be useful to ask any potential consultant for references from similar projects they have carried out. Local contacts can also be a good source of recommendations.