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The LTOA - Caring for the Capital's Trees

Welcome to the LTOA website. The London Tree Officers Association (LTOA) constitutes the professional & technical voice for London's trees & woodlands. Its aim is to enhance the management of the Capital's trees. We hope that you find the LTOA website both interesting & informative. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Ben Morris, Senior Arboricultural and Woodlands Officer, LB Sutton explains how a man was hit with an £8,000 bill and criminal record for pruning trees so his pool would catch the sun

The incident happened over 12 months ago in February 2014. A call came into the Parks department saying a resident was removing Council owned trees. My colleagues at the time attended (as I was on leave) and confronted the house owner; they then called the local park police. The police attended and arrested the house owner. The duty Sergeant then unarrested them. It was only when we pushed the police that they the charged the house owner again.

A few weeks later, I was asked to have a look at the trees again with regard to their value, as some of the trees had been so badly hacked, I made the assumption that they had full canopies prior to the event. The trees have started to regenerate but obviously lost their central leader, so as stated in court, their value was reduced. I was very conservative when calculating their value, this proved to be a good thing in court, as they could see I had not over egged the cake so to speak.

The defence had an expert witness - who concentrated mainly on the condition of a large Ash tree which had been reduced back in 2009. They also brought into the mix poor planning that allowed the property to be built in 2011, far too close to this tree to which I agreed, but was not my issue. There was a Daldinia growing on an old stump on the lower stem but this was irrelevant to the case, as was the Council’s inspection records which were also questioned. It has really highlighted to me the importance of a good and well recorded management system which we now have in place. Prior to this on an open site, such as allotments, we had risk assessments only.

At the beginning of the trial the defence Expert and I got together to produce a joint statement which helped the process and stopped a lot unnecessary hassle during the trial. The Judge was quite good at steering the barristers in getting to the real issue of criminal damage, rather that swaying the jury with misleading information on inspection schedules etc.

The defence was focused on the structural condition of the Ash and that the householder was concerned about the safety of his family - he said there was a hanging branch which he cleared; something that I said would have been dealt with by our term contractor on an emergency basis.  It was obvious that there was far more removed than just a hanging branch. It was also pointed out that the accused used unskilled staff with no safety equipment which put them, him and others at high risk of harm.

In the dock, I was asked about the type of debris and why I believed that more than two branches had been remove from the large Ash. There was also question why we thought all the trees had been damaged at a similar time, freshness of cuts, poor quality, all done in haste etc

In the end it was a unanimous decision by the Jury which was a surprise. The whole thing was quite stressful at times, but a good experience. The lessons I will take away from this are improvements in recorded inspections and more time and detail in producing reports, when investigating criminal damage.


Come rain or shine: LTOA at the London Assembly Environment Committee

Come rain or shineIn October 2014 the LTOA were invited to give evidence to the London Assembly Environment Committee in relation to a report about extreme weather events. We used the opportunity to highlight the fact that trees play a hugely important role in preparing London to cope with extreme weather events such as drought or flooding, and to make the point that whilst we are of course in favour of increased tree planting wherever possible, planting alone will not meet the targets to increase canopy cover so long as established trees are being removed. Essentially the message we tried to convey was that tree retention can be just as important as tree planting, even if it is not always so well reported.

The report has now been published, click here to view, and we are pleased to say that our comments have been included. On page 22 of Come rain or shine. London’s adaptation to the risks of severe weather (March 2015) it says:

“Trees have an important role to play. The Mayor has a target to increase London’s tree cover from a baseline of 20 per cent to 25 per cent by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2050; by 2025, he wishes for 2 million extra trees. The Mayor has several tree-planting programmes with targets of 10,000 to 20,000 trees each, which have so far led to the planting of more than 100,000 trees. Since this represents a relatively small proportion of the planned London-wide increase, progress will therefore have to be achieved mainly through other means.

New planting is only part of the solution. New trees take a long time to reach maturity and deliver their full benefits. Also in urban areas trees are often subject to removal or reduction for many reasons. A significant determinant of green infrastructure benefits in the short to medium term is the protection and well-being of existing trees and green spaces.”

The report also specifically sets out ten recommendations for the Mayor. Recommendation 6 is:

“The Mayor should demonstrate, with quantified contributions from different actions as in the Climate Change Mitigation and Energy Strategy, how and where his green infrastructure goals (including for tree cover and river restoration) will be met. Among the contributing actions will need to be better protection and enhancement of existing green infrastructure. The Mayor, with local government, should agree and implement appropriate measures to secure this.”

The LTOA are specifically referenced as the origin of the comment on page 22, demonstrating that our attendance at Committee had real influence. We hope that this document will be of use to our Membership as a further tool to be used in situations where trees are threatened, and we hope that the next Mayor of London will take on board Recommendation 6.

Richard Edwards, Chair of the LTOA, said "our reps rightly and successfully highlighted the need to manage and protect the Urban Forest we already have as well as planting for the future".


Managing Chalara ash dieback in London

Managing Chalara ash dieback in LondonThis leaflet provides some practical advice on managing Chalara’s impacts on biodiversity and the landscape, protecting economic returns from timber production, safeguarding the public, compliance with legislation, identifying trees which show resistance to the disease, and increasing the resilience of our woodlands.

It focuses on how we manage the decline of ash in the landscape and woodlands, and is intended for use by local and highway authorities, private tree and woodland owners, and tree-care contractors.

Click here to view or download the leaflet



BarchamBarcham Trees, Europe's largest container tree nursery, is hosting its Big Barn Conference entitled 'A Day in the Urban Forest' at its Ely, Cambridgeshire, headquarters on Wednesday, 17 June 2015.

The event's organiser, Barcham's sales director Keith Sacre, has secured a group of world-class arboricultural experts as speakers to the expected 550 delegates for whom attendance, plus breakfast and lunch, is completely free of charge. "We believe our 2015 Big Barn Conference will be the biggest arboricultural gathering of its kind ever held in the UK, and I am delighted we have nine speakers from three continents to make the day a truly international event, and one we know tree care professionals will not want to miss", says Keith.

The peer who earlier this year called for stricter bio-security measures relating to tree imports is set to make the opening address. Speaking in the House of Lords in a debate on the natural environment on 15 January 2015, Lord Framlingham expressed his concern at the number of trees imported into the UK and the risk posed by attendant diseases such as ash dieback. He also praised the voluntary code of practice devised, introduced and implemented by Barcham Trees regarding the bio-security of its tree stock.

Compère for the conference will be Dr Mark Johnston, himself a speaker on the history of urban forestry, who will introduce:

  • Jim Smith Trees and Woodlands Officer London on the London i-Tree project
  • Frederic Segur on urban forest management in Lyon France.
  • Mike Raupp: University of Maryland USA on pests and diseases: threats to the urban forest
  • Henrik Sjoman University of Alnarp. Sweden on tree species selection
  • Nina Bassuk. Cornell University USA on tree species selection for the urban environment
  • Dave Nowak USDA USA on urban forest management, and the use of i-Tree
  • Cecil Konijndijk van den Bosch. University of Alnarp. Sweden on urban forest governance.

A few places are still available from Barcham Trees. Please e-mail Natasha Hutchison This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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Become a Member

Join the LTOA

Members can attend, for free, the the LTOA meetings which are held four times a year and cover a wide range of tree related matters. Click here to find out how to become an associate member


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