New draft BS5837 launch

04.06.2024 3 min read

The release of a new set of draft guidance of BS5837, the British Standard for Trees in Relation to Design, Demolition and Construction – Recommendations is due to take place this month (June 2024). This long-awaited update offers the opportunity to bring about crucial changes aimed at better integration of new and existing tree cover. As stakeholders eagerly anticipate the final iteration early next year, it’s pertinent to examine the implications and potential ramifications of these revisions.

First established in 1980, BS5837 has evolved alongside advances in design and construction practices, providing guidelines for retaining trees within the context of construction projects. However, with urbanisation intensifying and ecological concerns rising, the need for a comprehensive update became apparent. A new BS5837 provides an opportunity to address these contemporary challenges and align the standard with current scientific understanding and best practices.

One of the key focal points of the draft revision is likely to include the emphasis on holistic tree management, encompassing not only the preservation of existing trees but also the wider promotion of sustainable urban forestry practices over larger areas. This broader perspective acknowledges the multifaceted role of trees in urban ecosystems, encompassing benefits such as carbon sequestration, air quality improvement, and biodiversity conservation. By integrating these considerations into the standard, the revised BS5837 offers the potential to foster more resilient and ecologically vibrant urban environments through recently released BNG legislation alongside the provision of high-quality visual amenities.

Moreover, the draft revision is likely to incorporate the many advancements in technology and methodologies since the previous iteration in 2012, reflecting the evolving landscape of arboriculture. With the development of evermore sophisticated tree assessment tools, remote sensing technologies, and data analytics, professionals now have access to unprecedented insights into tree health, species distribution, structural integrity, and environmental impact across a wider geographical area.

However, amidst the anticipation surrounding the draft revision, it’s essential to recognise the potential challenges and complexities inherent in its implementation. Balancing the interests of various stakeholders, navigating regulatory frameworks beyond the sphere of arboriculture and ensuring practical feasibility pose significant hurdles that must be addressed effectively to ensure success. Additionally, the transition to a new standard necessitates comprehensive training and capacity-building efforts to ensure widespread understanding and compliance within the industry.

Looking ahead to the final iteration of BS5837 in Spring 2025, there is cautious optimism regarding its potential to catalyse positive change in the field of arboriculture. By fostering collaboration, innovation, and knowledge exchange, the revised standard can empower stakeholders to navigate the intricate relationship between urban development and tree preservation more effectively. However, its ultimate success will hinge on the commitment of all involved parties to embrace and uphold its principles in practice.

In conclusion, the issuance of a draft revision of BS5837 in June 2024 marks a significant milestone in the ongoing evolution of arboriculture standards. As the industry awaits the final iteration in Spring 2025, there is a sense of anticipation tempered by the recognition of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. By embracing the principles of sustainability, resilience, and collaboration, the revised standard has the potential to shape a more harmonious relationship between urban development and the natural world, ensuring that trees continue to thrive amidst the ever-changing urban landscape.

Key Contacts

Duncan Smith Associate Director
Tamzin Davis Principal Consultant - Ecology