Tree Management Plan

Wolverhampton Homes

Wolverhampton Homes found that the management of their trees was largely reactive; responding to customer enquiries and dealing with problems when they occurred. They wanted to improve their risk awareness and find efficiency savings in the way that tree stock was managed.

Process

In 2009, Wolverhampton Homes awarded their grounds maintenance contract to Continental Landscapes. There was provision to develop a city wide tree management programme as part of the contract.

Continental Landscapes engaged Capita Symonds to undertake a survey of all trees on communal land contained within Wolverhampton Homes’ portfolio across the City. This focused only on trees in communal areas as those within the curtilage of individuals’ properties are generally the responsibility of tenants themselves.

The survey entailed a visit of all sites to map Wolverhampton Homes’ existing tree stock. The survey identified trees which were dead, diseased or causing damage and in need of immediate attention as well as those in need remedial works within a twelve month period. As a result of the initial inspection to identify any risks, approximately 250 trees received the attention of an arborist to remove immediate risks. A second survey was then undertaken in greater detail to assist the development of a tree management plan.

A five year tree management plan was developed based on the results of the second survey and was approved by Wolverhampton Homes’ Board in 2011/12. The ongoing programme of work is prioritised based on the number of trees in each ward, the proximity of trees to properties and those which present the greatest risk of damage to buildings or generate most complaints from tenants.

Above: screen shot of the map which assists front line officers answering enquires at point of contact.

Aims of the management plan

  1. Identify trees that Wolverhampton Homes are responsible for 
  2. Remove trees planted very close to properties and likely to cause damage 
  3. Remove branches that are encroaching on properties and likely to cause damage 
  4. Reduce the overall impact that trees have on properties by either: crown lifting; crown reduction; or crown thinning operations 
  5. The above actions will release resources so that in future, areas that are devoid of trees can be planted with appropriate tree species

The benefits

  • Reduction in ongoing site inspections 
  • Reduced travel between sites by operational crews 
  • Reduction in fuel usage 
  • Consistent approach communicated to tenants and leaseholders 
  • Improved tree quality
  • Reduction in customer service enquiries 
  • Pro-active plan for carrying out works 
  • Dedicated resources to complete the plan.

Impact

Improved partnership working with Wolverhampton City Council which has meant both organisations are better able to respond to customers. The mapped information is shared between both organisations so that they are equipped to deal with customer enquiries at the point of contact.

Wolverhampton Homes is now better able to manage customer expectations regarding tree works. The management plan provides a robust justification as to why works are carried out and offers a pro-active management approach which customers like. They feel better able to advise tenants when a tree or group of trees are scheduled to receive works and have received fewer complaints.

Development of a planting programme allowed Wolverhampton Homes to replenish any removed trees with species that are more appropriate for the intended location.

Wolverhampton Homes have found the survey and subsequent management plan (planned vs responsive) has resulted in efficiency savings for the organisation meaning they are saving money in the long-term.

  • Expenditure on trees has reduced by 25%.
  • Enquiries have reduced by 55% (961 May to Oct 2010 vs 429 May to Oct 2011)
  • There has been a significant reduction in emergency situations requiring attention as a result of storm damage/high winds. In Winter of 2011, there were only 6 reported incidents which illustrates the benefit of undertaking initial surveys and addressing the risks identified.