Arboricultural Management and Tree Inspections

Sheffield Trees in Jeopardy

Jon Barton - PBA ConsultingHow does our nation truly value its trees? How much of an asset do we perceive them to be, and how can we quantify this? As professional tree surveyors we are always conscious of the implications of these questions. Once upon a time Sheffield was heralded as England's greenest city, a claim that was reinforced when it won the 2005 Entente Florale competition. One of the jewels in Sheffield’s arboreal crown is the avenue of limes along Rivelin Valley Road. At three and a half miles long, it forms the second longest lime avenue in the country. This spectacular natural monument is rooted in Sheffield’s history, but there are now concerns that sections are under threat, along with many other trees along Sheffield’s roads.

It is not often that trees make the news, but in Sheffield they have become the major focus for demonstrations and news stories. The underlying issue is that the residents of Sheffield really do value their trees, for a whole plethora of reasons. And this has come into conflict with the Sheffield City Council who, through a PFI, are responsible for the felling of over 5,000 street trees so far throughout the city.

Sheffield City Council’s PFI road strategy includes controversial plans to cut down over 17,500 of the 36,000 road side trees. They state “Under the Streets Ahead contract, trees are only replaced if they are either dead, dying, diseased, dangerous, damaging footpaths, private property or roads or discriminatory by obstructing pavements.” But it appears that they are not limiting themselves to these criteria and have included a whole host of trees not impacting roads, in fine health and with many more decades of life in them.

So, on what basis are these trees being assessed?

In tree surveying there is a recognised method for managing trees as public assets rather than liabilities called CAVAT (Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees). It is designed not only to be a strategic aid to decision-making tool in relation to the tree stock as a whole, but also to be applicable for individual cases, where the value of a single tree needs to be expressed in monetary terms.

When undertaking tree surveys for our clients PBA Consulting is very conscious of the needs of the stakeholders and preserving the environment. Trees are most definitely an asset, but sometimes a judgement call needs to be made on tree management. Some of qualified and experienced tree surveyors are currently surveying over 8,000 trees across three counties on property belonging to a housing association. The Association wants to understand the condition and management of their tree inventory, and take appropriate action to maintain the quality of this asset.

As the value of trees becomes more recognised by all stakeholders, and the needs of each tree is better understood, we look forward to the responsible management of the nation’s trees as a valuable component in urban environments.

If you are considering instructing tree surveying for one or many trees call PBA Consulting on 01202 816134 for a professional service and a competitive quote.

Author: Fiona Aucott BA Hons, MA: Fiona has a close affinity with the land having grown up on a smallholding and had her hands in the earth all her life. Now she works with PBA Consulting to promote their range of Landscape skills and professional services that they offer including Tree Surveying, Tree Consultancy, Arboricultural assessments.

Contact Fiona on 01202 816134 or

sheffiled trees in jeopardy


sheffiled trees in jeopardy