from London Tree Officers Association and the Association of Tree Officers
In order to gauge the change in working habits of local authority tree officers and their tree contractors due to COVID-19, the London Tree Officers Association (LTOA) and Association of Tree Officers (ATO) issued a survey in April 2020. The survey was sent to all London boroughs (including Transport for London), Association of Tree Officers (ATO) members and LTOA non-London local authority members, just over 70 local authorities in total. Responses were collected over a 4-week period with 51 respondents in total.
At the time of response, two-thirds of the responding local authorities had moved to a critical service only position with two-thirds also reporting that tree works had been identified as a critical service. 60 percent of respondents working with public realm trees were only carrying out inspections if there was a concern for public safety, while 30 percent were still carrying out cyclical inspections. One third of respondents were working from home only. For tree contractors continuing to work, 60 percent of respondents said their contractor had undertaken and supplied an updated risk assessment to operate safely.
For tree officers working with privately owned trees, the inspection numbers were down further compared to publicly owned trees. Only 38 percent of respondents said they were carrying out public safety inspections. Only a quarter of respondents were inspecting to investigate potential breaches of tree legislation.
As lockdown eases, it will be interesting to see how working practices alter. We plan to have a follow up survey in a few months to gauge the impact of the lockdown on tree work.
For more information please contact Becky Porter, Executive Officer, LTOA on 07771 976238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ltoa.org.uk.