Urban Forest Volunteers

The Roles and Responsibilities of
Our Staff and Volunteers
urban forest volunteers

Do you already know about us?

BTP, made up of urban forest volunteers, are a fully constituted Community Interest Company. We organise and oversee the Urban Forestry Volunteer Scheme in the city. It was originally set up as part of the Tree Council’s Tree Warden Scheme by Birmingham City Council’s Tree Officers in 2016, and is now one of the largest of its kind in the UK.

Membership Categories

Two urban forest volunteers, smiling whilst measuring the height of a tree.

People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some it offers the chance to give something back to their community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. 

We don’t charge a membership fee for any categories, but we do distinguish between our volunteers and paid staff to provide support services. Broadly, there are two categories of BTP membership:


> Contracted staff 
> Contractors on an occasional basis
> Freelance consultants on retainer


> Occasional or part-time volunteers
> Urban Forest Volunteer
> Specialist Urban Forest Volunteer

Occasional Volunteer

This category doesn’t have specific requirements, and is suitable for those who attend occasional events like our training or planting, to further a specific goal.

Registration is required when attending a BTP event, but wouldn’t trigger the General Data Protection Regulation.

Volunteer planting: man's legs in red tousers on the left with a wheelbarrow, man of the right in all green mulching the base of the newly-planted tree.
This category also includes corporate volunteers attending and supporting events, as part of a social inclusion arrangement with their employers.

Urban Forest Volunteer

The range of urban forest volunteer activities includes:

Championing trees in your local community

Providing early warning of threats, disease, decay, or vandalism

Meeting with like-minded people for training and field trips

Managing and developing the friends’ tree trails

Recommending trees for protection under Tree Preservation Orders to your local authority

Planting and caring for trees

Assisting in the management of local parks and woods

Working with local groups and schools

Developing imaginative initiatives, such as tree adoption, encouraging the community to value trees

Undertaking street tree surveys, to determine how well newly-planted trees are doing in the city

See the blog reel below to get an idea of what our trustees and urban forest volunteers have been up to:
  • Nechells, Bloomsbury Tree Planting
    We were joined by many enthusiastic nature-lovers in Nechells last Saturday 9th December, for our #TreeWeek planting on Bloomsbury Street. Our BTP team consisted of Simon, Katy, and Sue, who worked with Nechells POD, Lee Marsham, Majid Mahmood, 5 local … Read more
  • Trees in Planning Applications
    BTP are thrilled to have be asked to speak about trees in planning applications to the Calthorpe Residents Society. On the 29th November, the meeting was hosted in a very plush wine bar in Edgbaston Village. There are two BTP … Read more
  • Highters Heath Tree Planting
    Today we celebrated Tree Week in Highters Heath, with Highters Heath Community School and the Friends of Daisy Farm Park. We worked with the new friends group and school earlier this year to plant trees, and now we are back … Read more

Requirements of an Urban Forest Volunteer

For us to register you as one of our Volunteers, you must have attended an induction session run by BTP. We have to store your contact details for our insurance purposes, that’s why enrollment form (below) agreement must be filled in and signed. You’ll be asked to attend a minimum of one BTP training session every 6 months, and support at least one organised tree event every 12 months.

The Role of a Volunteer

The Volunteer Scheme gives people who feel that trees matter an opportunity to champion their local trees and woods, by carrying out or encouraging practical projects and involving their neighbours, as a central part of the scheme.

Urban forest volunteers work closely with local authority officers and conservation bodies, who are fundamental to the scheme’s success. This can include coordinating local events, offering practical advice, and providing training.

The Do’s and Don’ts

Always remember: whilst all volunteers are valued volunteers, Urban Forest Volunteers are not (in most cases) qualified tree experts, and you do not have any special authority. Please see the drop-down below:

Appendix: Keeping Yourself Safe

As an urban forest volunteer, you should NEVER: 
• Enter private land without the owner’s agreement, even if this is to carry out simple tree maintenance activities such as removing tree ties or carrying out hedgerow or tree surveys.
• Advise whether a tree is safe: if it falls you would be liable, and you are not insured for this. This is the role of a professional arborist/tree officer.
• Undertake practical work without appropriate training and permissions or outside your physical ability.
• Attempt to handle tree disputes yourself or antagonise situations, trees can be an emotive subject and there are many reasons why people may not like trees just as there are many reasons why Tree Wardens love trees! Remember this is the local community in which you live so act reasonably and be willing to listen and compromise. If in doubt, refer to your local authority Tree Officer.
• Carry out chemical weed control without having completed the certificated training.
• Use a chainsaw without having completed the certificated training or without insurance.
• Carry out work on trees that could result in the disturbance of or destruction of wildlife during their breeding/nesting season.
• Bring your Volunteer Network, Birmingham TreePeople, into disrepute.

Specialist Urban Forest Volunteer

The requirements for Specialist are the same as for urban forest volunteer with additional training. The range of Urban Forest Specialist activities might include:

Working with your tree officer to provide comment on applications for works to trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order or in Conservation Areas

Surveying trees and gathering information about them

Setting up tree nurseries using seeds collected locally

Any other qualified-level work beyond basic

Leading guided tree walks and giving talks to local groups

Structural pruning of newly planted trees and young tree maintenance tasks, like stake and tie removal, mulching, watering, etc.

Liaising with your Tree Officer about proposed developments that impact trees and monitoring development sites to ensure the tree protection measures are adhered to

The training requirements are delivered by BTP, and are included as modules in our monthly training.

BTP provides a paid L2 Arboriculture course that further builds on the free training. If volunteers would like to go the extra mile.

Six recipients holding their L2 Arboriculture awards
It is hoped volunteers in this category would seek to get involved with the BTP committee and its operations. Follow this link to read more about the first graduation of Level 2 Arb students with BTP.

Convinced? Sign up below, or download the form here:

Urban Forest Volunteer Application Form

If you’d like to become a volunteer, please complete this form.

Please choose one or more from the following and write them in the empty box below (hold down control to multi-select):
If there is anything else to add for your interests, write it below:
Write your experience and qualifications below:
We will have insurance to cover you when you are taking part in BTP-organised activities, but if you have any key health issues we should be aware of, please write them below. If not, please write N/A.
Please provide us with contact name we can get in touch with in case of an emergency:
Please provide us with contact number we can get in touch with in case of an emergency:
BTP collects information about our volunteers, so we can contact you about training, events, activities, and we can make sure you are safe during said activities. This information is stored securely on computer by the BTP Committee Secretary. When you terminate your volunteer status, all information held by BTP will be destroyed securely. If you agree to these terms, please write your full name in the box below to sign this form: