Birmingham’s approach to requests for memorial & commemorative trees
The purpose of the Treemembrance: Commemorative Tree Programme is to encourage the retention of large mature trees by adoption, and to further add new trees to Birmingham’s urban forest. In doing so, this gives the sponsor the opportunity to commemorate an event or person.
This guidance is to provide information on the planting of commemorative trees as memorials and celebrations, in and around the various parks managed by the City Council or partner organisations.
People often wish to plant trees as memorials or to commemorate major life events:
Weddings | Engagements | Holidays | Anniversaries | Baptism | Memorials | Special Events | Parents | Friends | Outstanding Accomplishments
There are many places where commemorative trees are welcome. Opportunities exist where tree planting is part of a landscape programme in parks and gardens, or in the establishment of avenues, hedgerows, and new woods. For a variety of reasons, it may be harder to accommodate tree planting in existing woods or other mature landscapes.
Our Position on Treemembrance
BTP respond positively to requests for commemorative tree planting, in most cases, on behalf of the City Council. Planting sites are offered when there is high probability the planted tree will remain undisturbed to maturity, but this isn’t guaranteed.
Management for conservation of the surrounding landscape, or its biodiversity, will take priority over the protection of an individual tree. Any tree planting must be in-keeping with management plans for the site both now and in the future.
As a consequence we are not able to accept planting proposals for designated country parks or areas of special conservation status (LNR, SSSI, SLINC). This will include, but is not limited to, Sutton Park, Woodgate Valley, and Lickey Hills. Please contact us beforehand if you think your area falls in these categories.
When Do We Take Action?
The following conditions will apply:
Wherever possible, the wishes of the sponsor are considered. However, in all cases, the final location, species, size, and type of protection will be determined by BTP. This is in conjunction with the Council or the appropriate landowner.
To be satisfied with the quality of the trees, and the way they are planted, BTP and the Council normally provide, plant, and maintain the trees.
It’s possible for a sponsor to plant the tree with assistance and guidance from BTP, and often a dedication ceremony can be catered for, but the timing of such events is BTP’s decision.
Any young commemorative tree which fails in the first four years after the initial planting date, for horticultural reasons, will be replaced at BTP’s expense.
Charges for commemorative tree planting reflect all direct costs. This includes a provision for the future management of the tree.
Any dedication can be recorded on BTP’s website, and by a label on the tree. The design of all commemorative ware must be in accordance with the management policy for the chosen site.
We do not consider the installation of plaques. They are generally contrary to the management of public sites outside of designated bereavement areas.
The dedication of a memorial tree will not give the sponsor a right to determine or influence future management. The obligation falls upon BTP and the Council to ensure proper maintenance for many years. New staff must be aware of these trees and ensure that they always receive special care.
Woodlands are generally not the most appropriate places for commemorative trees. Individual trees can easily get lost in woods and copses, their growth may be suppressed, or possible removal in early stages to favour other trees. Natural regeneration rather than planting may often be the best way to sustain woodlands. Memorial trees are ideally planted in parks, open spaces, fields or hedgerows, not in woods.
Planting New Woods:
It’s rare for the Council to establish new woods. However, when they are planned, there may be a suitable opportunity for a commemorative donation, or a supervised public tree planting activity.
There is, in principle, no reason why the New Wood should not be named by the sponsor. However, all decisions affecting the design and future management of the wood will remain solely the responsibility of BTP/BCC.
Commemorative Tree Tags
A metal tree tag noting “In Memory of” or “In Commemoration of”, listing the tree genus and species, and an identification number, will be attached to the tree for educational and inventory purposes.
A recognition page will be created on the website listing the trees that have been donated. Sponsors will have the chance to provide a photograph and text for inclusion on the “Where are our trees?” page.
How Do We Manage Funds for Treemembrance?
The funds received in the Commemorative Treemembrance Programme are used to purchase trees. Not only to serve as a living reminder of the special people or occasions in our lives, but also maintain the trees, both new and existing. Sponsors can adopt an existing or plant a new tree.
This option is the most readily available and the preferred form for commemorations. To “adopt” an existing tree and attach a tag, the sponsor must request a list of available trees. This includes the level of donation necessary for each tree. The more historic, regal, significant and long-lived the tree, the higher the level of donation required.
The cost of maintaining a tree is largely dependent on the longevity of the species. This also includes predisposition to limb damage and disease. This can make the donation level highly variable.
Sponsor tags will remain on the tree until the tree dies, is removed as a hazard, or new regulations. In some cases, this could be as little as 5-10 years, and in others over 200 years.
If a tree is removed for construction (e.g. new buildings, sewer relocations, etc.) the sponsor will be informed. The care can be transferred to a comparable tree, providing one exists, in agreement with the sponsor.
The tag won’t read something like, “This tree was planted in memory of John Smith”. Instead: “The care of this tree is being provided by Mrs. Jane Smith in memory of her husband, John Smith.“
Commemorative Tree Option
If a sponsor chooses to have a new tree planted, a formal request must be made to BTP. We will inform the sponsor if there is space available in the preferred location. BTP will find out if the Council intends to add a tree that could be designated as memorial within the desired time frame.
The BTP will choose the type of tree and the location of the planting site. This is because these two decisions must be made with any management plans in mind. However, if multiple trees are available, the sponsor can choose from the list provided by the BTP.
How Much Does It Cost?
As stated above, the adopt a tree option will depend on the tree chosen for the commemoration. As a guideline, adopting a large, mature specimen (eg. oak) in a highly trafficked area would cost around £2000, but to adopt a smaller, shorter-lived tree (eg. Mountain Ash), would be in the region of £300, which is the minimum cost for any commemoration.
The cost for any new commemorative trees will be £750. This includes the tree purchase, planting, aftercare, and any associated ceremony. It also considers the replacement tree if it fails in the first four years (see above). The costs of any plaques or tags are not included in this price, and is £50 additional each.
 Priced currently 2023.
When Can The Tree Be Planted?
Planting of any commemorative tree under the Treemembrance programme will normally take place in the next available planting season. This is usually November to January of each year. Any trees planted outside of this time frame will incur a higher charge. They will also not be replaced should they fail in the first four years.
What Species Can Be Planted?
A list of trees recommended for planting under the Treemembrance programme is contained as an appendix. Special requests for other types of species will be considered, but BTP has final approval. Every effort will be made to place the tree in the park of your choice. If conditions warrant, BTP/BCC reserves the right to place the tree in the park best suited for the tree.
Please see below the Appendix for selecting your tree species, or click here to read about it on our website.
Treemembrance Application Form
Request forms are available to fill out below or by downloading here and emailing to us:
Treemembrance Request Form
Memorial and remembrance tree application or request form.