Why choose a professional Arborist?
Tree work is a dangerous and highly skilled operation. Choosing an arborist is something that must be done with great care. Picking the wrong arborist could lead to:
- Injury to people,
- Damage to property,
- Irrevocable 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.
Genuine or not?
Anyone can call themselves a tree surgeon (arborist) and place an advert in Yellow Pages and offer a service. An advert alone does not guarantee quality of work or that it will be carried out safely.
Competent arborists will have certificates 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 furnish copies of their insurance, qualifications and professional memberships and will work to nationally recognised standards.
Questions you should ask an arborist
Stage 1: Asking for a quote
(a reputable arborist will always give a positive response)
1. Are you insured?
If yes, please show evidence of insurance - Employers liability and Public Liability (recommended min £5 million)
2. Do you work to a British Standard?
If yes, which one? Should be BS3998
3. What qualifications do you and your staff hold?
You should ask to see copies of certificates.
Compulsory: Must have NPTC certificates for chainsaw use. NPTC is a national organisation that assesses competence of people using chainsaws and other arboricultural equipment. Competent arborists will be able to show you either an A4 sized certificate or a plastic id card.
Recommended: Certificates for other skills and machines. Arboricultural knowledge e.g. National Certificates and Diplomas.
4. Will you provide a written quotation?
If no reject this contractor
5. Are you a member of a professional organisation?
Membership does not guarantee work standards but does show a degree of commitment.
6. Can you provide me with the phone number of a referee who can show me some of your work?
If yes, follow up the lead
Stage 2: Choosing the quote that suits you
When you receive your quotations check they include the following before deciding which one to accept:
- The name, address and land-line telephone number of the company.
- Reference to BS 3998
- Clear and full details of the work to be undertaken
- What will happen to the debris
- Whether VAT is included
- Who will be responsible for obtaining permission for the work if the trees are protected
- What steps will be taken to protect you and your property
In the UK there are two voluntary schemes certifying the competence of arborists through examination and regular reassessment or continuing professional development. You can search for accredited contractors near to you using the find a tree surgeon website.
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.
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 arborist’s approval is current through the ISA website.
Other arborists may be equally competent but have chosen not to take part in these schemes.
Things to avoid
If you find any of these points you should consider carefully whether you are really dealing with a reputable tree surgery company:
- Soliciting work door to door
- Advertising "topping" as a service. Topping is harmful to trees and good arborists will not carry it out
- Uses only a mobile phone number or can not be traced to a permanent address
Contacts and further information
This information on this page is based on a leaflet produced by the following industry organisations with the help and co-operation of the Health and Safety Executive.
Hampshire SO51 9PA
Tel. 01794 368717
Forestry Contracting Association
Tel: 01467 651368
Health and Safety Executive
Caerphilly Business Park
Caerphilly CF83 3GG
Tel: 08701 545500
Institute of Chartered Foresters
7A St Colme Street
Tel: 0131 225 2705
International Society of Arboriculture
148 Hydes Road, Wednesbury
West Midlands WS10 0DR
Tel: 0121 556 8302
Tel: 0247 669 6996
National Association of Tree Officers
Tel: 0161 2816122
National Agricultural Centre
Warwickshire CV8 2LZ
Tel: 02476 857300
Tree Care Industries Association
Tel: 02380 649756