BSI standards concerning trees in relation to design, demolition and construction

An understanding of BS5837 is essential for those involved in design, demolition and construction.  It outlines the best practice and approach to dealing with trees in the build environment.

This standard gives the three-stage process that arboriculture consultants should follow when advising on development sites.  These stages are:

  1. Feasibility and Planning which results in a plan that is approved by clients and regulatory bodies before proceeding to stage 2.
  2. Detailed/ Technical Design including the schedule for tree removal and protection measures for those that remain.
  3. Implementation and aftercare

If you want a team of commercially focused, consultant lead arborists to develop your arboriculture plans, gain regulatory approval and quickly implement them, then contact EOS on 01531 650012 or at

Contact EOS



The overall aim of this BS standard is to “achieve a harmonious relationship between trees and structures that can be sustained in the long term”. This standard is important as it recognises that development is vital and that trees must be appropriately managed in the build environment while ensuring that environmental performance issues are not adversely impacted in the long term.

BS5738 addresses recent changes to building control standards and construction methods while valuing the part tress play in the wider ecosystem as well as their potential to improve air quality and assist with combatting climate change.


Stage 1: Feasibility and Planning

The first stage includes:

  • A topographical survey which maps the distribution of trees and other ecological features
  • Tree survey and categorisation –a visual tree assessment ascertains the health of the tree and its categorisation (see below)
  • Identify any tree constraints
  • Identify trees for retention or removal
  • Produce new planting and landscape proposals with an accompanying tree protection plan

Once this stage has been completed the resulting scheme design goes forward for approval from the client and regulatory bodies.

Tree Categorisation

It is vital to categorise your trees as this helps decide which should be retained and which should be removed.  Trees are categorised in the below ways:

  • Category U- These trees are unsuitable for retention as they cannot realistically be maintained as living trees in the context of the current land use for longer than 10 years.
  • Category A- Trees of high quality with a life expectancy of at least 40 years
  • Category B- Trees of moderate quality with a life expectancy of at least 20 years
  • Category C- Trees of low quality with a life expectancy of at least 10 years, or young trees with a stem diameter below 150 mm

The quality of a tree is judged by three criteria

  • Arboricultural qualities- Trees that are good example of their species, especially if rare or unusual, or those that form an essential component of a group of trees
  • Landscape qualities- Trees, group or woodlands that are of visual importance to their landscape
  • Cultural values or conservation- Trees, groups or woodlands that have a conservation, historical, commemorative or other value (e.g. veteran trees or wood-pasture)

All trees are considered by an arborist to be in category U on initial inspection.  If they are not, then they are assessed against the criteria for A where they are either categorised as A or are then assessed against criteria B and so on.

Stage 2: Detailed/ Technical Design

This stage involves:

  • Technical Design
  • Schedule for tree removal and pre-construction tree works, for example pruning to allow vehicles on the site
  • Identify and document tree protection measures

Stage 3: Implementation and Aftercare

During this stage, your plan is implemented which includes:

  • Securing the area to be worked in,
  • Site monitoring and
  • New planting

After construction is completed, the trees are inspected and any required remedial work is completed.  You will then be given recommendations for post-completion tree management.

This gives you a brief overview of the BS standard. It is important that you receive commercially focused advice and support from a trusted team.

EOS Contracting are trusted by major companies including Carillion and Scottish and Southern Energy. You are invited to contact us to develop your arboriculture plans, gain regulatory approval and implement them quickly.

Contact EOS