Vast Thames Water tree survey will aid more proactive management, says contractor

Ground Control is halfway through a mammoth environmental survey of Thames Water's estate which is intended to encourage managers to be more proactive about tree management.

Image: Timo Newton-Syms (CC BY SA 2.0)
Image: Timo Newton-Syms (CC BY SA 2.0)

The survey, which began in April last year, is taking a team of specialists the length and breadth of the Thames Water estate to inspect individual trees, groups and woodlands, where access allows. It is expected to take until summer of next year.

The water company said it is assessing and evaluating all of the trees and associated or potential habitats that are on or near its sites, "in a bid to protect staff, visitors, the environment, infrastructure, the public and property".

Ground Control senior arboricultural consultant Alan Richardson said: "There's limited knowledge of what Thames Water owns, or where its sites' boundaries finish. As well as highlighting dangerous trees and recommending remedial tree work, we are creating a huge database of the trees and species, which will be accessible for years."

As part of the work, the survey team is reporting back to Thames Water when trees are found to have been badly storm-damaged or are suffering from a disease, and recommending appropriate remedial work, with felling seen as a last resort.

"It's more about proactive management than reactive, sand will eventually save Thames Water on admin, management time and costs," Richardson added.

The team has so far recorded around 150 species of trees on the company's land, while there are thought to be "well in excess of 170,000 trees" overall.

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