Getting your forestry work right

Whether you are considering a single tree being felled to whole-scale felling and restocking, it is vitally important that the correct permissions and licenses are in place. From 1 January this year, there are heavy penalties for getting it wrong, with a penalty of £2,500 or twice the value of the felled timber.

In addition, there is the potential costs of significant ground impact and environmental degradation that results from poorly undertaken forestry operations. Assessing this risk and taking measures to mitigate damage is part of the planning process and how you approach the work.

Choosing the right contractors for the job is also important. The choice ranges from large-scale contractors to one-man bands, bringing every conceivable piece of equipment to the table, from large machinery to a specialist horse-logger.

Any contractor you consider must hold the many certificates and competencies required for forestry operations, ranging from the initial CS30//31 (Chainsaw maintenance, crosscutting and felling of small trees- up to 380mm), all the way to FMOC (Forest Machine Operators Certificate) for Harvesters/Forwarders. They must also be able to demonstrate that adequate insurances are in place, and that cover is compliant with current legislation.

Recent changes in the rules, mean that it is no longer acceptable to have several chainsaw operators in a contractor’s team, all under their own individual insurances.
There must be a designated ‘employer’, who holds employers’ liability for the whole group. As a rule, I would recommend a minimum £5m Public Liability cover in areas of low public access and potential for damage to property, rising to £10m+ for tree surgery operations in proximity to buildings with a higher risk of damage to people and property

Timing of tree felling should also be considered. It is possible to fell trees all year round but check out compliance with BPS or Stewardship schemes as restriction due to nesting birds or ecological checks, for example.

Bearing all of this in mind, it is worth getting recommendations from a neighbour when choosing your contractor. If any member of the NNCG has recommendations for tree-felling contractors or any other relevant service, please do let us know so we can add them to the Services section of the website.