Here is a simple toolkit based on the Queenswood Oaks campaign which you are welcome to download and use:

Image credit JC Hermier                    

Online Resources

There’s lots of advice online to help in tree-saving campaigns:

Advice On Tree Roots

Don’t be put off by insurers or local authorities telling you there’s no room for a root barrier to protect against subsidence. Root barriers were once thick layers of concrete, but not anymore. Obviously the vendors and specialist installers of root barriers take a very positive view of their potential but their experience might be useful to set against the often defeatist view of the technicians working for insurers. Check out these websites for more information:

Straightforward Advice

Here’s some straightforward advice from our Tree warden in a format you can share:

 Legal precedents

Traditionally insurance lawyers will cite the Kew Root survey of 1981 for legal guidance, but gradually things are changing and we think recent case law establishes three precedents:

  1. The question of reasonable foreseeability.  If the tree owner could reasonably foresee the potential for a tree to cause damage but did not manage the situation, then it is liable.  But if they did take action to mitigate the risk then liability is reduced or even eliminated
  2. The amenity value of trees is now being increasingly recognised by the courts, balanced against the risk of subsidence.  This can help in the preservation of street trees, reducing council liability, provided the council can demonstrate a good programme of management of street trees, which takes account of risks.
  3. Expert opinion can often sway a court as to the extent to which subsidence or damage has been caused by trees, thereby reducing, but perhaps not entirely eliminating liability.

Here at SHIFT we have gathered together a number of legal precedents that a lawyer could use to support the case for retaining a tree:

There are also some interesting cases on the London Tree Officers website here >> and on this solicitor’s website>>. And here is a further relevant analysis from Weightmans>>

Visit our blog for regular updates on legal cases>>

Useful Professional Contacts

Click to view their website

Lawyers for nature

Peter Barry – Chartered surveyors  or email:

SHIFT Action Plan For Haringey

SHIFT has created an action plan to improve the situation in Haringey.


Have you already been involved in a tree-saving campaign? If so, let us know!

If you have expertise in arboriculture, botany, structural engineering, PR, law or comms we would appreciate your help; we always welcome new ideas and team members.

Visit our contact page and say hello. >>

When the heat has passed you forget about the shade of trees

Japanese proverb

“Even trees do not die without a groan”

Henry David Thoreau

“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“It is difficult to realize how great a part of all that is cheerful and delightful in the recollections of our own life is associated with trees.”

Wilson Flagg

When the tree falls the shadow flies

Chinese proverb

“I said to the almond tree, ‘Friend, speak to me of God,’ and the almond tree blossomed.”

Nikos Kazantzakis

“A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.”

William Blake

“To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world.  To be poor and have trees is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy”

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“The tree which moves some to tears of  joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in their way.”

William Blake

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money

Cree proverb

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools”

John Muir

“The best friend on earth of man is the tree. When we use the tree respectfully and economically, we have one of the greatest resources on the earth.”

Frank Lloyd Wright

“To exist as a nation, to prosper as a state, to live as a people, we must have trees.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach … the ancient law of life.”

Hermann Hesse

“A tree which has lost its head will never recover it again, and will survive only as a monument of the ignorance and folly of its Tormentor.”

George William Curtis