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National Tree Officers Conference Tree Establishment Opinion Survey

Last November, our Communication and Innovation specialist Daisy conducted a micro-survey of Tree Officers at the National Tree Officers Conference in Telford. This research was kindly supported by a bursary from Fund4Trees.

Who are Fund4Trees?

Fund4Trees is a registered charity which promotes sustainable treescapes. As stated on their website, they do this by:

  1. promoting for the benefit of the public the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment by promoting sustainable treescapes.
  2. advancing the education of the public in the conservation, protection and improvement of trees in the physical and natural environment.
  3. advancing research for the public benefit in all aspects of trees and to publish the useful results.

What was the purpose of the survey?

The survey aimed to form a cursory impression of existing post-planting maintenance programmes and the perceived sufficiency of revenue funding available for such programmes. The researcher also wanted to know whether Tree Officers perceive these factors as worthy of further research and whether there are other factors they would investigate in relation to urban tree establishment success.

A photo of daisy brasington and the survey documents she was handing out at the NTOC alongside a photo of the conference hall with people listening to a speech

Summary of the results.

Current Post-planting maintenance: The results were encouraging (80% of trees receive post-planting maintenance) within their respective local authorities, but this response should not be interpreted as a representation of the whole country as a different sampling methodology would be needed to accurately represent that. Additionally, there was a possibility that the local authorities (LAs) that could send Tree Officers to this national conference (and furthermore, who have dedicated Tree Officers at all) may be better-resourced LAs.

Post-planting maintenance across the UK: This survey showed a high level of agreement among surveyed Tree Officers that, across the UK as a whole, “A lack of revenue funding to ensure post-planting maintenance is an issue impacting successful tree establishment”. The private sector was perceived to be most affected, followed by the public sector and then the third sector.

Considering what arboricultural research is required: 75% of Tree Officers surveyed agree that “urban planting mortality rates’ is an important subject for further investigations. 70% of Tree officers agree that urban tree establishment generally is an important topic for future research and 65% agree that research into the availability of revenue funding is important.

Click the link to read the full report with further discussion of the results and context (opens in a new tab):

National Tree Officer Conference – Opinion Survey Results and Discussion – Published 14.3.23

What happens next?

The results of this survey are now being used to refine a proposal to investigate the efficacy of tree establishment in urban environments which we look forward to sharing the results/progress of later this year. The results will also be published in the Summer edition of the Arb Magazine, which all professional members of the Arboricultural Association will have access to.

Finally…

Daisy would like to extend gratitude to all those who made undertaking this micro-survey possible; to Fund4Trees for the bursary, the National Tree Officers Association Conference for allowing us to survey at the conference and to the Institute of Chartered Foresters for assistance in following up responses. Final and important thanks must also go to Dr. Mark Johnston for his ongoing guidance, including suggesting not to over-interpret these initial survey results but use them to develop further robust research in this area, which is certainly needed.

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