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Street Trees

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Introduction to Street Trees

We are surveying all the newly planted street trees in Birmingham to check that they are thriving and growing well. Nina Griffiths, one of the BTP trustees, is making sure our young trees are being looked after properly, in order to help them grow into mature trees to increase Birmingham’s canopy cover, reduce air pollution and urban heating, amongst many other factors. Volunteer tree surveyors are being trained to undertake the survey work with our help.

Why survey the street trees?

The general overview of this survey is to asses the crown dieback, overall condition, and potential damage of street trees, old and newly planted. This will determine we can proceed with planting new species suitable for the warming climate. We will do this by increasing canopy cover in priority wards around Birmingham, and improving the upkeep of our street trees. Based on an American model, TreePlotter analysis is used to record the findings.

How do you conduct a Survey of Street Trees? This video gives you an idea:

We are using TreePlotter to record all the data.

Street Tree Survey Training

Where are the findings?

Street Trees: 2022

Here is the presentation with the interim findings of the Newly Planted Street Tree Survey, given to the Municipal Tree Officers Association on 7th Dec 2022:

Street Trees: 2023

Our findings, despite 69.5% of the surveyed trees being in good condition, were 7.4% poor and 2.5% dead. Additionally, only 18.2% were fair, meaning there will be many solutions to raise the percentage of good and fair condition trees. Most of the trees have date and time reference for planting; we can track the timing of the damage.


Root problems, loose trees, soil size, staking, vandalism, species selection, and low to no mulching (87.7%!) are all contributing factors to the failure of the trees in certain locations. It was found during a US study, that we have modeled ours on, that most of the trees died in poorer areas of the cities.

That’s why BTP are working on ‘red wards‘ or priority wards – areas that suffer from low income, and therefore low tree equity.


We noticed from the data that forest trees like beeches are being planted, and trees from predominantly the rose family, like cherries. The problem is, these are susceptible to bacterial canker. Additionally, liquidambars appear frequently, although not native, and are thriving on our roads due to heat islands.


The citizen science involved in this survey is ideal for informing the city council, highways and planting agencies. They have been mistakenly planting the wrong kinds of trees, due to nursery demands being five years in advance. We can inform them of the appropriate trees for the location. Science-driven planting is what we strive for. Informative, constructive, and science-based evidence for planting trees in certain street locations will improve the quality of those areas exponentially.

The survey is ongoing, if you’d like to join us.

street tree graphic of 2 trees

Street Trees: 2024

This year, we have received a generous grant, which will advance the citizen science street tree survey massively. This project has been funded by Heart of England Community Foundation, through West Midlands Combined Authority’s Community Environment Fund. This project runs from April to November 2024, with a total of 3,000 street trees to survey.

The following priority wards (as dictated by the UFMP) will be completed first: Bordesley Green, Hodge Hill, Nechells, Tyburn, Washwood Heath. Once all the trees are surveyed in these priority wards, we will be surveying in other wards in the city. Please be aware that the trees for surveying are scattered around the city, so it involves traveling and walking between tree locations.

The project will pay £2.00 per surveyed tree to a maximum of 100 trees per surveyor. You will be paid after every 25 trees you survey, and after the data has been validated.

Bank details will be requested via an application form, if you decide to participate in this project after the initial field training session. On completion of the project, all banking details will be deleted under our guidelines: BTP Privacy Policy.

Surveyors who have attended field training in 2024 can join us in Nechells, Bordesley Green or Hodge Hill. Existing surveyors (pre-2024) must attend refresher field training (2 hours):

Sunday 7th April in Nechells, Monday 15th April in Bordesley Green, Sunday 28th April in Hodge Hill.

New potential surveyors must attend mandatory zoom introduction (1 hour), followed by field training (2-3 hours). Field training dates for May will be published soon:

Online – Tuesday 9th April at 7pm, Online – Thursday 11th April at 7pm, Online – Wednesday 17th April at 7pm

Any surveying equipment issued must be returned after your participation in the project, and a tick-box form will be issued after the initial induction, so we can keep track of the equipment and ensure it is returned. If you wish to continue as a volunteer with the project, you may keep the equipment for future surveying.

Surveying locations will be emailed with addresses of the meeting points and also using the What3words app.

Thank you for showing an interest in this citizen science project to help look after our street trees and our environment. If you would like to become a street tree surveyor, please complete the form, and we will be in touch!

If you’re an urban forest volunteer, you can download the variables handout below for the ongoing survey.