Data service allows rapid early assessment of developments' tree impact

Multinational engineering firm Aecom has developed a new service for early assessment of arboricultural issues on development sites.

Image: Bluesky International
Image: Bluesky International

It has developed a methodology for determining the likely extent of a tree’s Root Protection Area - the notional extent of tree roots essential for tree health and function, and a key planning constraint.

Combining this with data from specialist survey data supplier Bluesky's National Tree Map allows notional buffer zones for each individual tree and tree groups to be generated based on their height.

When used with other relevant data such as Tree Preservation Orders, Conservation Areas, existing survey data and observations, these datasets form the basis for High Level Tree Constraint Plans, which help to inform design choices and identify areas of potential conflict where a further detailed on-site survey is required.

The findings can be used to assess large or inaccessible sites, informing design choices and reducing the number of detailed tree surveys needed under BS 5837, the British Standard for trees in relation to construction.

Aecom has already applied the methodology on several large-scale projects including major road schemes, residential masterplans and regional utility infrastructure projects.

Its associate director of arboriculture and forestry Andy Wakefield said: "Our team has developed an innovative service to provide an assessment of the likely spatial constraints posed by existing trees within areas proposed for development.

"This has proven to be invaluable for large projects and inaccessible sites with the key benefit of ensuring that trees are considered early in the design process."

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