TE11: Tree surgery

Natural England

May 22
13:02 2024

How much will be paid

73.36 per tree when cutting limbs up to and including 20cm in diameter.

146.72 per tree when cutting limbs over 20cm in diameter.

Where to use this item

Available for Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier, Higher Tier (including WD2: Woodland Improvement) and Capital Grants.


  • for tree surgery on mature, fully grown trees, with higher payment rate for where cutting of limbs over 20cm diameter is required (Note this item is not intended for use on bush orchard trees.)

Where the cutting of limbs of over 20cm diameter is required, the applicant must obtain a written assessment and advice on the work required from an appropriately qualified arboricultural expert, which addresses and is aimed at delivering:

  • the intended outcome
  • long term health and viability of the tree(s) to be cut
  • any requirements for subsequent management

This item is not eligible on bush orchards. These are defined as intensively managed top fruit crops, including apples, pears, cherries and plums, grown on non-vigorous rootstocks.

How this item will benefit the environment

Maintain and enhance the character of the landscape by managing and/or restoring mature trees, to prolong their lives, and maintain their wildlife and/or historic value.

If successful, mature trees in danger of collapse will have been stabilised and established pollards will have been re-pollarded. In cases where it will enhance the character of the landscape, new pollards will have been created on established trees with a diameter at breast height of less than 40cm (less than 20cm for oak and beech, as larger diameter trees are likely to fail).


  • carry out tree surgery between 1 September and 1 March
  • where cutting limbs over 20cm diameter, carry out the work in accordance with the advice received
  • cut the tree cleanly at sufficient height to prevent grazing of re-growth
  • only carry out first pollarding on trees with a diameter at breast height of less than 40cm (20cm for oak and beech)
  • control injurious weeds as the site regenerates, but do not apply any pesticides within 10 m of the tree, except for herbicides to spot treat or weed wipe
  • remove cut material from the site or tidy it into piles

Do not:

  • use this item for work required for health and safety purposes

Keeping records

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them on request:

  • any consents or permissions connected with the work
  • receipted invoices, or bank statements where a receipted invoice is unavailable
  • records of when the tree surgery was done and by whom, and details of any spot spraying or weed wiping
  • photographs of the trees to be managed

Please see the record keeping and inspection requirements as set out in the relevant Mid Tier, Higher Tier or Capital Grants guidance for more detail. You can find the latest guidance at Countryside Stewardship: get funding to protect and improve the land you manage.

Agreement holders will need to keep the following records and supply them with the claim:

  • photographs of the completed work

Advice and suggestions for how to carry out this item

The following section gives advice on carrying out this item successfully but does not form part of the requirements for this item.

How to manage the site

Tree surgery and working at height require specialist skills. Read more about useful tree management and safety information in Common sense risk management of trees - Forest Research from the Forestry Commission (FC).

Advice from an appropriately qualified arboricultural expert should be sought this is a requirement for all work that involves cutting limbs of over 20cm diameter, as is a written assessment. An appropriately qualified arboricultural expert can be defined as:

  1. An individual who has achieved an RQF (Regulated Qualifications Framework) Level 4 qualification or higher in Arboriculture. This means at least the Level 4 Award in Arboriculture or its predecessor the Level 3 Technicians Certificate in Arboriculture.

  2. Is a member of the Arboricultural Association at Technician level or higher.

For use of this item in Woodland Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier Forestry Commission woodland officers can provide support for the use of this option as an alternative to a report from a professionally qualified arboriculturalist. Forestry Commission Woodland officers can seek advice from arboricultural experts where necessary.

When reintroducing pollarding on mature trees after a long gap, adopting some of the same techniques that are applied to veteran pollards should be considered - in a group of pollards, trial on an individual tree and/or leave longer stubs to test the response. Limbs that branch from below the height of the first pollard cut do not need to be cut.

Be aware that there is a separate option available in Higher Tier only, BE6 - Veteran tree surgery.

Where practical, angle cuts away from the centre of the crown during tree surgery to allow water to run off. Cut material can be disposed of by stacking in piles on site or removing it from the site. Leave material in as large pieces as possible and do not stack against the trees that have been cut. Small branches and twigs (under 10cm in diameter) can be burnt on site provided trees are not damaged. Avoid disposal on sensitive habitats or historic features. Fire sites should be a minimum of 10m from the canopy of any tree.

Consents and permissions

Be aware that a number of consents and permissions may apply:

  • the Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and Conservation Orders may apply to the trees on site
  • old trees especially can host European Protected Species, such as bats

Further information

Read Countryside Stewardship: get funding to protect and improve the land you manage to find out more information about Mid Tier, Higher Tier and Capital Grants including how to apply.

Published 2 April 2015
Last updated 22 May 2024 +show all updates
  1. New wording added to the 'how to manage site' section.

  2. Added section to Advice and Suggestions

  3. 'Where to use this item' updated to include WD2: Woodland Improvement.

  4. Information updated for applications in 2016.

  5. First published.

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