Tree conservation is exceptionally important for a number Rolling green hills, fruit-filled orchards and vast forests are just some reasons why Kent is renowned as the Back Garden of England. The Kentish countryside and even urbanised areas boast some of England’s most beautiful and long-standing trees. Just one example is the ‘Majesty Oak’ at Fredville Park, one of the largest oak trees in Britain and estimated to be 1,000 years old.
As local tree surgeons, we are proud to play a part in conserving Kent’s trees and forests. But the job isn’t always straightforward. Read on to uncover why tree conservation is essential and how a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) can make the process more difficult for landowners.
What is tree conservation?
Tree conservation is an overarching term that covers an array of methods used by professional tree surgeons to maintain individual trees and forests. These techniques eradicate or protect the tree from bacteria and decay while encouraging healthy growth, aesthetic beauty and longevity.
Tree conservation always begins with an assessment of the tree or trees. The tree surgeon will identify if any disease is present and the type of disease. They’ll then come up with a course of action to remove any current issues and ways to improve the tree’s long-term health. A large part of tree preservation is removing dead branches. This can stop diseases from spreading and, in some instances, even prevent the tree from collapsing.
Why is tree preservation important?
Tree conservation is exceptionally important for a number of reasons, not limited to:
- Local wildlife use trees as their habitat
- They are an integral part of different ecosystems
- They add to the natural beauty and enjoyment of areas
- Some trees provide us with ingredients for medicines
- Trees recycle carbon dioxide and release oxygen, making them essential for all life on our planet
Can I maintain my trees?
Tree preservation requires an in-depth knowledge to identify tree diseases so the optimum course of action can be taken. An incorrect diagnosis can lead to poor long-term results. Tree surgeons are also experts at maintaining public safety while carrying out their work, which can be dangerous, especially when operating on tall trees. For these reasons, it is best to leave tree preservation to tree surgeons.
Moreover, you may not be immediately permitted to carry our tree preservation on a tree or group of trees, even if it is situated on land you own. Some trees are subject to a Tree Preservation Order, which makes the process of preserving them a little more complex. Even if a tree is not covered by a Tree Preservation Order, you may still need a license from the Forestry Commission to fell a tree.
What is a Tree Preservation Order?
A Tree Preservation Order is issued by a local planning authority to protect individual trees or groups of trees from being cut down, relocated or subject to tree lopping or tree topping. It is also prohibited to cut the roots of these preserved trees. The overarching aim of a Tree Preservation Order is to prevent harm to local wildlife and maintain the long-standing natural beauty of an area for the general public to enjoy.
If you have a tree on your land with a Tree Preservation Order, you must get written consent from the local planning department if you want to carry out any of the prohibited activities, including tree preservation. The local authority may grant permission for tree preservation to be carried out, but any consent will come with strict conditions attached.
In nearly all cases, you will only get approval if the work is to preserve the tree’s health rather than to remove it. You’ll only get permission to cut down preserved trees if they were wrongfully issued with a Tree Preservation Order in the first place.
Local councils cannot demand that the owners of preserved trees carry out maintenance work. But they can encourage high standards within tree conservation as part of the conditions attached to any consent to carry out tree conservation. For example, they may say that professional tree surgeons must carry the work out.
How do you know if a tree has a Tree Preservation Order?
The best way to know if any trees on your land are subject to a Tree Preservation Order is to contact your local authority. You should have been notified of any preserved trees when you purchased your land as part of the search carried out on the local land charges register.
We’ve listed some other common ways to check for a Tree Preservation Order here.
In Kent, many local authorities have made it easier to identify trees with a preservation order. Some local council websites now include an interactive map showing the areas where preserved trees are located. For example, Folkestone and Hythe Council use this interactive map to show preserved trees.
What happens if you cut down a tree with a preservation order?
All work on a tree with a Tree Preservation Order is prohibited without written consent from the local planning department. If you complete any type of work on preserved trees – even with good intentions – you can be hit with a fine of up to £20,000.
You can also be penalised if you get permission to carry out the work but do not abide by the conditions attached to the consent.
Get help with your tree conservation!
If you need support uncovering whether your trees are subject to a Tree Preservation Order in Kent and the subsequent preservation of those trees, our tree surgeons are here to help.
We have vast experience helping locals understand and overcome the complexities of Tree Preservation Orders. And, of course, we have the know-how and tools to eradicate tree diseases and maintain tree health.
Contact our friendly tree surgeons for a professional assessment!