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This is what we do

Here at NATO we try to do as much as we can to serve our members. Members are corporate and are all local authorities in the UK. The main contacts tend to be tree officers but we have a full range of people involved with trees ranging from large County Councils, through to small rural districts. Our main areas of work are as follows:

Representation and Liaison

Our Newsletters for Members

Updates and Reviews


A summary of each of these areas of work is contained below with some recent examples of our work.

Representation and Liaison

NATO is involved in a wide range of activities. The examples below illustrates the range of work that we do. We keep members up to date with progress and involve them in the discussions. We set up virtual groups drawn from the membership to undertake reviews and discuss current issues.

NATO is also part of the Arboricultural Liaison Group along with others such as the AA, HSE, ICF and Lantra. The ALG aims to meet a number of times each year and works together on a number of projects.

NATO is constantly liaising with a number of bodies including DCLG and DEFRA and provides regular updates for its members through e-mail contact and via the Newsletter.

NATO is represented on a number of review committees and has been successful in putting forward the views of tree officers to ensure that their needs are fully taken into account. Examples are illustrated below:

BSI 213 Committee - this is the oversight committee that deals with all tree related British Standards; 3998, 5837 etc. NATO has representation on this ongoing committee.

BS 5837 review - the 5 year review of 5837:2005 began in January 2010 and is now complete. NATO is represented on the review group, by invitation, to input to the review process from the local government perspective.

BS 8545 Young Trees: From Nursery Through to Independence in the Landscape

Barriers Report: Defra tasked the Forestry Commission to set up a Working Group of partners to highlight the main barriers and drivers to both planting new trees and retaining existing ones within urban areas.

AFAG - NATO are part of a virtual group to discuss and improve health and safety throughout the industry, focusing on the underlying root causes of serious injury.

TDAG - The Trees & Design Action Group is a multi-disciplinary group of individual professionals and organisations from both the private and public sectors who have come together under The London Trees & Woodland Framework to collaborate in achieving an increased awareness of the role of trees in the built environment.

Recent work includes:

Trees in the Townscape, a Guide for Decision Makers

Developed by the Trees and Design Action group (TDAG), a not-for-profit and a-political collaborative that we are proud to belong to. The group facilitates cross-sector and cross-disciplinary dialogue and projects about the role of trees in the built environment throughout the United Kingdom.

This new guide by TDAG takes a 21st century approach to urban trees, one that keeps pace with and responds to the challenges of our times. It offers 12 action-oriented principles spanning the range of planning, design, works and management issues that must be addressed for maximum economic, social and environmental returns. More than 30 case studies provide real-life examples of the principles in action, giving insight into best practice from all over England including Birmingham, Bristol, Hackney, Islington, Leeds, Newcastle, Oxford, Plymouth, Torbay, and Sefton as well as from further afield including the US and Hong Kong! We hope you’ll enjoy reading and using it!

NATO has already resolved to:
1. Use the Trees in the Townscape 12 principles to guide its decisions and actions on trees, whether related to its own tree stock or to the planning and management of wider the local tree resource.
2. Facilitate the dissemination and understanding of the 12 Trees in the Townscape principles among key local decision makers and stakeholders. This will include: Council members and key council staff, particularly in highways, planning, housing, regeneration and environment: Local business or community partners, such as Business Improvement Districts, friends group, neighbourhoods fora and health and well being partnerships, local nature partnerships and tree wardens; Owners, managers or key stakeholders of/for large tracks of land such as and Registered Social Landlords

If you would like to endorse "Trees in the Townscape" please use the following link:

AA Professional Committee – The committee deals with ethics and standards across the broad breadth of the arboricultural industry and NATO inputs from a local authority perspective but also in the spirit of inter-association cooperation.

NJUG 4 – NATO was actively involved on the NJUG 10 review that resulted in the revision which is the current NJUG 4 which offered the opportunity to have arboricultural input into the Guidelines.

Helliwell System – NATO was pleased to be on the working group for the Helliwell System review and also contributed to the final document.

AA Standard Conditions of Contract: revision – NATO assisted in the revision of this AA product.

Trees in Towns II

It is now some time since the publication of Trees in Towns II and here at NATO we want to emphasise the need for it to be 'used' rather than put to one side and left. We urge you to use the research data provided to help back your case for getting the resources you need to help make the improvements that you identify for your service. We stress the ten targets that are identified in the study:

  1. To have at least one specialist tree officer;

  2. To obtain at least £15,000 in external funding for the LA tree programme over the next five years;

  3. To develop and implement a comprehensive tree strategy;

  4. To undertake a best value review of the LA’s tree programme;

  5. To install a computerised tree management system;

  6. To ensure that at least 40% of the LA's tree maintenance work is done on a systematic, regular scheduled cycle;

  7. To ensure that at least 90% of all the LA's newly planted trees, excluding woodland plantings, receive systematic post-planting maintenance until they are established;

  8. To establish a programme, within the next five years, that will ensure every TPO is reviewed on a specified cycle;

  9. Every LA that has a planning function to have a comprehensive Supplementary Planning Guidance document relating to trees and development;

  10. Every consent to work on protected trees to be monitored regularly and enforcement action taken where necessary.

National Tree Safety Group Common sense risk management of trees. The following 3 documents have been made available from NTSG:

Forestry commission launches vision for resilient urban forests - March 2016

Our Newsletters for Members

We have been producing Newsletters for our members for almost 20 years now. 'The Tree Officer’ started life as a hard copy newsletter posted to each member. Over the years it has become a regular feature for our members and we try to include as much current information as possible. It is for members only but we have included below a preview of a more recent e-news showing typical contents. Members can also contribute to the Newsletter and raise issues which require the views and help of others.

More recently we have moved to an e-news style, using mail chimp and circulating to members and all member contacts quickly and efficiently.


Professional Reviews

In addition to the Newsletter and e-news, NATO commissions from time to time reviews of important documents such as Green Papers, BS reviews etc.

National Conferences for Tree Officers

NATO organised the first national conference for tree officers in November 1999 which took place at the Derbyshire Hotel in South Normanton and was attended by well over 250 delegates from around the country. This was followed up a number of annual conferences in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004 focussing on issues relevant to tree officers with speakers invited with a range of experience and expertise. The conference moved to Manchester in 2004 and over the 5 years that the event took place some 600 delegate places had been filled.

As local authority budgets have tightened we have found that the large conference style events are more and more difficult to promote and we have focussed our training since 2004 on the more specific workshop training events and support and advice on training supplied by others within the industry.

Training for Tree Officers

We have been training tree officers since 1999 and we are responsive to the needs of tree officers nationally. A full diary of current training is provided on the "Training Diary" page.

Obituary: Michael Joseph Volp May 1954 – May 2015.

Sadly Mike lost his battle with cancer and died in May 2015. As a director of NATO for over 16 years Mike was at the forefront of everything that NATO is striving to achieve. He will be greatly missed. NATO produced an obituary for use by the press and it can be read in full below.


"run by tree officers for tree officers"

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