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An arborist, or tree surgeon is a professional in the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants. Tree surgeons generally focus on the health and safety of individual trees, rather than managing forests or harvesting wood. A tree surgeons work may involve tree planting, transplanting, pruning, preventing or interrupting grazing or predation, stump grinding, structural support, preventing or diagnosing and treating disease, installing lightning protection, removing trees deemed as hazardous or invasive. Many tree surgeons climb the trees with ropes, harnesses and other equipment including lifts and cranes, while some may just provide a consulting service.
Tree surgery costs vary considerably as every tree is different in terms of size, type, location and proximity to roads or buildings. Tree felling services and crown reduction are usually priced per tree, whereas other more specialised services can be charged at an hourly rate, from around £40 per hour. When pricing a job always get several quotes and make sure they include a clear and full description of the work to be undertaken, the total cost of the work, and whether VAT is included, who is responsible for the resulting wood debris, who will be responsible for obtaining permission if required, and a full risk assessment outlining measures that will be taken to ensure that no damage will be caused to persons or property. Trees which have taken many years to grow can easily be permanently damaged through non-qualified contractors passing themselves off as tree surgeons. Unfortunately anyone can call themselves a tree surgeon and place an advert in the local newspaper. But tree felling and tree surgery are skilled operations which require a high level of technical knowledge and experience.
It is easy to be caught out and hire a bad tree surgeon as anyone can call themselves a tree surgeon and advertise extensively. Tree felling and tree surgery are skilled operations which require a high level of training and experience so it is important that you hire someone who has the skills and expertise for the job. Discuss the job in detail with the tree surgeon and ask for references or recommendations, ensure they carry adequate insurance and can provide the certificates of their training. Check that if the tree surgeon works to British Standards (BS 3998:1989 and 5837:1991). Always obtain a written quote and ensure that the hire cost for any machinery such as chipping machines is included. If removing a tree check whether the tree is protected with your local planning office or local authority, if you are unsure, a decent tree surgeon will be able to advise you. Make sure there is written permission from a local authority tree officer if it is in a conservation area and check for a risk assessment identifying potential hazards such as power cables and risks to the general public.
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