BS5837 Surveys are typically carried out by Arboricultural Consultants as part of the UK planning process. They will visit the site, carry out the inspections and record the results using the BS5837 Survey Android™ application (view screenshots), or the data can be noted down and later entered directly into the BS5837 pages on the OTISS website.

Viewing the BS5837 Data

The BS5837 button shows the trees as rows on a table/spreadsheet. Read more about how to sort and filter the data and edit the data. The spreadsheet can be used to select/filter trees, and then various reports can be created.

The survey form can be customised to suit your own working practice and for each individual client’s requirement – see below.

The table (at bottom of the page) lists the data that is recorded for each tree – it includes all the fields required for a complete BS5837:2012 survey and some additional fields.

BS5837 Spreadsheet

The web page presents the trees as rows on a table/spreadsheet. Read more about how to sort and filter the data and edit the data.

Species
Tree Species 1

Use the Species fields to assign a genus/species by Common or Botanical name. The Variety field allows for further distinctions to be recorded (if required) – enter some text or select from the configurable dropdown list.

If the Structure is a Group, Hedge, Shrubs or Woodland (displayed as a polygon), then you can record multiple species with a Variety and NumTrees for each one. The NumTrees for each species are automatically added up and the total stored in the NumTrees field for the group.

OTISS provides several regional lists of tree species (e.g. UK/Europe, Australia, New Zealand, etc.). Each list contains 100s of native and common species for that region. These lists also include entries for the genus (e.g. Willow sp.) for when species level identification is not required. You select the regional list at registration and never need to worry about it again. You cannot add or change these lists – they are shared between all OTISS users.

For each estate, you can build up a list of Estate Tree Species to augment the common species. On the survey forms, the two sets are presented as a single list of species. Use the Estate-> Tree Species website page to configure the species list. New species can also be added when using the OTISS survey apps.

If you find a species that you think should be added to the shared, regional OTISS lists, then please email the details to otiss@intrinsica.co.uk

When you change the species, the Mature Height field on the More Data tab is updated to show the value suggested in NHBC Chapter 4.2 Building near Trees.

Tree reference/tag numbers

It is important that the tree reference/tag numbers can be sorted in OTISS and also in Excel, Word and other data/GIS applications. Unfortunately, the ‘simple’ approach of using T1, T2, … T10, T11,. T20, T21, etc. does not allow for sensible sorting in Excel, Word, OTISS etc. Instead we must adopt an approach where the number of digits in each tag is the same for all the trees.

  •  When surveying up to 100 trees, the following set of tags is recommended: T01, T02, … T10, G11, … G20, T21, T99 etc. You will notice that there is always 2 digits in each tag – i.e. the numbers 1 to 9 must have a zero, T01… T09.
  •  When surveying between up to 1000 trees, the following set of tags is recommended: T001, T002, … T010, G011, … G020, T021, … T100, T101, … T999. etc. You will notice that there is always 3 digits in each tag – i.e. the numbers 1 to 99 must have leading zeros.

Measurements

  • Measurements for height and clearance are automatically rounded to the nearest half metre for dimensions up to 10m and the nearest whole metre for dimensions over 10m.
  • Measurements for N, E, S, W crown spread are automatically rounded up to the nearest half metre for dimensions up to 10m and the nearest whole metre for dimensions over 10m. Common practice is use a tape measure or laser to measure from the canopy edge to the bark; the rounding up will then cater for the stem diameter. The recorded values are then assumed to be from the centre of the stem to the canopy edge.
  • Measurements for stem diameters are rounded to the nearest 10mm.
  • The calculations for combined stem diameter and RPA are as specified in BS5837:2012. For ‘veteran’ trees the RPA is calculated as 15x stem diameter as per the 2017 guidence. The RPA for a group of trees or a hedge is the same as the enclosed area.
  • Enter negative numbers for estimated measurements – these will be shown as ‘nn#’ on reports.

BS5837 RPA

Note, when the map is configured to show the ‘Actual Size’, it only shows a calculated average crown spread from the BS5837 north, south, east and west measurements. But the CAD/DXF download shows a more accurate drawing with the actual north, south, east and west measurements.

Stem Diameters

Multiple stem diameters can be entered as a list of numbers separated by commas. Measurements for stem diameters are rounded to the nearest 10mm – as specified in BS5837.

  1. Single stem tree. Enter Number of stems=1 and Stem Diam=X and leave the Multiple Stem Diams field blank.
  2. For a small number of stems where you can measure each one. Enter the Multiple Stem Diams=X,Y,Z – the app will update the Number of stems field. Leave the Stem Diam field blank.
  3. For coppiced/multi-stem trees where there are too many stems to measure, you must estimate a count and an average. Enter Number of stems=N, (ave)Stem diam=Y and leave the Multiple Stem Diams blank.

 

Survey Notes…

The Survey Notes, Recommendations and Comments fields allow for free text entry. But to speed up the survey process we provide a means of quickly entering your commonly used sentences and phrases. Below each field there is another button that allows you to select from a list of commonly used sentences and phrases, these are appended to the text field and can then be modified to suit this particular inspection. You can customise this list of commonly used sentences and phrases via the Customise Survey button on the BS5837 page – see below.

Trees, Groups and Hedges
BS5837 plan

The Structure field is used to control how an item is displayed. Individual trees are shown as POINT icons. Groups, Hedges, Shrub and Woodland areas are shown as POLYGON shapes. Simply select a structure and press Save – the location co-ordinates will be automatically converted to the required shape.

The location coordinates are shown in the standard Well Known Text (WKT) representation for GIS objects. We don’t expect that you will ever need to edit these coordinates directly. It is recommended to change the shape and location on the Map page. Valid WKT formats are as follows:-

  • POINT (x y)
  • POLYGON ((x1 y1, x2 y2, x3 y3, …, x1 y1)) – NB: the last set of coordinates must be the same as the first.

Survey/Client Templates

OTISS provides a standard BS5837 survey form with all the required fields and a few additional fields that may (or may not) be useful for you. Many people will use our standard survey form, but many users like to customise the survey form (a) to suit their own working practice and preferences, and/or (b) to accommodate a clients’ specific requirements.

We recommend that you setup a survey form that reflects your preferences and use that on all your clients. This is achieved using the ‘Client Templates‘ feature. You can create one or more ‘client templates’. These template ‘clients’ are not used for doing surveys or real projects – they are just an easy/familiar way for setting up and storing your ideal survey forms (and some other settings). Here is what you have to do.

  1. Create a client with a suitable name (e.g. ‘BS Survey #1’).
  2. Select that client and customise it’s Survey Forms to be your ideal ‘standard’ – i.e. customise the field names, picklists of common values, mandatory fields, etc.
  3. Now every time you create a new a client, make sure to select ‘BS Survey #1’ in the Client template field. The survey forms (and other settings) will be copied from the selected template.
  4. If required, the new client’s surveys can be customised further – without changing your template.

As you learn more about using OTISS, you can keep returning to the template client and tweaking it to make improvements. Then subsequent new clients will use your newly improved forms, or you can copy the changes into a specific client using the Survey Templates button as described below.

Customise the Survey Form

Each client has its own survey form which can be adapted to accommodate any specific requirements. Customizing a survey form for one client does not change the survey forms for your other clients. You can customise most of the fields on the survey form via the Customise Survey button on the BS5837 page – i.e. all fields except those field marked with a * in the table below.

  • Each field has an ‘Id’ which is what OTISS uses (internally) to identify each field on the survey form and when generating reports.
  • The field’s ‘name‘ is what actually appears on the survey forms and reports. You can change the Field Name. A shorter name is suitable for columns in tables and spreadsheets, whereas a more informative name can be used on the survey forms.
  • A picklist of common values will speed up data entry on the mobile devices. This can be ‘suggestion’ list where you pick an item from the list but can also entry a value manually; or you can tick the “Value must be one of the list below” box, which means that you can only select from the list (i.e. manual entry is not allowed). It may be worthwhile adding ‘not applicable’ or ‘not recorded’ to the picklist for when an actual/sensible value is not appropriate.
  • Set some fields as mandatory so that you do not forget to provide a value when filling out the survey form.
  • Hide any unwanted fields to make the survey forms shorter and uncluttered.
  • You can configure minimum and maximum values for the numeric fields.

With the Survey Templates button (at the top of the table of survey fields), you can copy a survey that you setup for a different client or from one of your client templates. Use that as a starting point and then modify it further as required for this client.

Any suggestions?

OTISS is constantly developing to suit our users’ requirements. Please contact us if you have suggestions for features or options that you would like to see.

BS5837 Fields

FieldDescription
Survey & Site * Each inspection is carried out within a Survey. The Survey dictates the site for this tree.
Location * The location of the trees and the outline of the polygons are stored as longitude/latitude coordinates in the OTISS GIS database. But they are displayed as national grid references.
Reference * A reference name or number. e.g. T01, G14.
TPO ReferenceA TPO number, other reference(s) or tag number.
Species * A species selected from a list of tree species. The Common Species and the Estate Species are are presented as a single list of species. If the Tree Structure is a Group, Hedge, Shrubs or Woodland, then you can record multiple species and a variety and numTrees for each one.
VarietyA variety or cultivar (text).
Tree StructureOne of: Tree, Multi-stemmed tree, Group, Hedge, Stump, etc. This field determines whether the icon is a point or a polygon.
Age ClassOne of: Newly Planted, Young, Early Mature, Mature, Over Mature, Veteran.
Life ExpectancyEstimate life expectancy or “remaining contribution” in years, e.g. 10+, 20+, etc.
Number of StemsNumber of stems in a multi-stemmed tree. Used for calculating the RPA.

If the Structure is a Group, Hedge, Shrubs or Woodland, then the NumTrees for each species are automatically added up and the total stored in the this field for the group.
Stem diameter(s)The measured stem diameter. For multi-stemmed trees, the user can provide a list of stem diameters or an average stem diameter. Used for calculating the RPA.
RPA Area and Radius * The RPA is calculated (as define din BS5837) from the number of stems and stem diameters. This field is read-only.
HeightMeasured height of the tree.
Mature Height (NHBC) * The NHBC estimate for the expected mature height of this species. This field is read-only.
Branch Spread: N/E/S/WMeasured branch spead for the four compass points.
Crown ClearanceMeasured height of the crown canopy from ground level.
Lowest branch Height and Direction.Measured height of the lowest branch from ground level, and the direction of growth – i.e. N/S/E/W.
Survey NotesDetailed notes of what was seen during this inspection.
CustomText1A configurable text field (max 50 letters).
CustomText2A configurable text field (max 50 letters).
CustomText3A configurable text field (max 50 letters).
CustomNum1A configurable decimal number.
CustomNum2A configurable decimal number.
CustomNum3A configurable decimal number.
Retention CategoryThe BS5837 category: A, B, C, U and the sub categories ‘arboricultural’, ‘landscape’ and ‘cultural’.
Pre-construction recommendationA set of pre-construction management recommendations.
Mid-construction recommendationA set of mid-construction management recommendations.
Post-construction recommendationA set of post-construction management recommendations.
Additional CommentsA set of additional comments about this tree and the proposed development.
Date Inspected * The date on which the item was inspected.
User Name * The name of the person who carried out the inspection.