What is BS3998? – British standard for Tree work – recommendations



BS3998:2010 is a document, revised in 2010, which lays out the way in which all tree work should be carried out. It covers subject such as

BS 3998:2010 Tree work - Recommendations

BS 3998:2010 Tree work – Recommendations

  • Work specification
    • what should and should not be specified. i.e. avoid removing limb(s) to create an unbalanced tree likely to collapse
    • how to specify the work – terms to be used and how to specify measurements
    • how the site should be manages, storage of tools and equimpent
  • Timings of works after prior pruning, root damage, water stress or defoliation
  • How to decompact, remove and replace soil around trees
  • Pruning
    • How and when to prune trees
    • Where to cut and how much to remove and more importantly how much to leave.
    • How to make the final cut (target pruning)
    • How to crown thin and crown lift
  • Installation and management of cable bracing and propping (to support weak limbs)
  • Management and removal of tree stumps

Unfortunately, a lot of tree surgeon claim to work to BS3998 and many don’t. Quite often tree surgeons claim to work to a standard they have not seen let alone read and understood.

BSI Shop – BS3998:2010


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  2. Richard carra says:

    Our neighbors had a contacted comein claiming to be a tree surgeon. He made an absolute abortion of a tree on our garden leaving it totally unbalanced. How can you find out if he is accredited to any body and how do you make a complaint to the relevant authorities

    • Admin says:

      Hi Richard

      This short answer is, with difficulty. It’s a largely unregulated industry with no compulsory scheme such as the gas safe scheme. Like builders it relies on customers doing their homework and choosing a reputable company.

      It’s up to the tree surgeon to join various professional bodies and entirely optional. They are not vetted in any way and membership doesn’t assure quality (although those who are members have a more professional outlook and attitude). The only exception is if they are Trustmark approved or an arboricultural association approved contractor. If they are they should have details on their website. If they are not then options are limited.

      Trading standards could get involved but if the contractor was carrying out your neighbour’s wishes then it’s unlikely they would.

      There are legal options such as professional negligence if it can be proved that the tree surgeon has unbalanced the tree to such an extent that failure of the tree has/will occour.

      Your neighbour also has a duty to you under duty of care legislation and could be neglignet of that but it very much depends. I would recommend speaking to a legal profesional before going any further.

      If you know who the trader is and/or want to send some pictures to us at rich@rawtreecare.co.uk i’ll take a look for you.

  3. Robert says:

    People complain about tree surgeons but nowadays it is a hit and miss who you get,just recently the local property and developer applied to cut my Oak tree with a TPO on it he asked to cut back 5 meters back from his property line And cut a lower limb this was refused,but Basildon Council granted Laindon Holding’s permission to cut back 3 meters back from his building line.
    His so called tree surgeon R E Wood & Sons of Rayleigh Essex not only cut back out tree back over 6 meters more than he should have done but also cut off the lower limb and also cut a Ash tree with a TPO on it this was reported to Basildon Council but they have replied that it is not in the public interest to prosecute.
    How can this not be in the public interest when they ignored Planning Laws,
    Can anyone offer any advice how to take Laindon Holding’s andR E Wood & Sons to court?

  4. Ann Cakebread says:

    A recent application to replace an old bungalow in a wooded part of a Conservation Area of the New Forest, has been granted, with conditions including tree root protection fencing clearly marked on the site plan enclosing trees to be retained. No sooner was the permission granted than the owner brought in so far anonymous “tree surgeons” to help him start “site clearance”, which to their minds included removing a good many trees within groups specified to be retained. Incidentally, this work has happened since the start of the nesting season. The enforcement officer did get this work halted temporarily (too late for a good many trees) but now a Tree Works Application has been submitted for removal of a further approximately 30 mature trees, all within the “retained trees” areas specified in the Planning Decision. Is this a manoeuvre which can be used to get planning permission apparently based on promises of protection of a sensitive area but with the aim of acquiring a clear site ripe for modern development?

    If the local authority Tree Officer authorises removal of significant groups of trees because individually they are not important enough for a Tree Protection Order, does his permission override the strict conditions in the Planning Application Decision Notice?

    Some large trees have been removed over the past few months without any permission at all. It seems prosecution may not be considered “expedient”. Why not? If not the “tree surgeons”, why not the owner, who has done much of it himself?

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is important that clients understand the basic terms commonly used to describe tree work operations so that they can ask for what they want or understand what the arboriculturist is recommending.


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