How to get an arborist report

Whether you want to prune a heritage-listed tree or undertake a housing development project, an arborist report is an essential part of the deal.

Understanding exactly what these reports entail and how to get one is crucial, and this article will explain everything you need to know about getting one. Make sure you choose an experienced and qualified team such as Urban Arbor.

Top 3 consulting arborists in Sydney

Rank Business Website
1 Urban Arbor
2 New Leaf Arboriculture
3 Arbor Pride

What an arborist report is

An arborist report is a legal document which outlines information related to a development site involving trees, the impacts that work may have on a tree, and/or the health and condition of a tree. It is often needed by local (and sometimes even state or federal) council before any development work or tree removal work is done – especially when it’s related to a significant tree or heritage-listed area.

The information it provides

Arborist reports are required to include a large amount of information regarding factors such as the safety, condition, health and management of trees, as well as details about the development site itself.

Site details

The details of the client and the purpose of the report should be included. All information regarding the development site, such as exposure to weather, previous human intervention, and nearby structures, should also be listed.

Tree information

The report should include tables for every tree that is being assessed. These tables should include data such as tree lifespan, name, age, height, hazards and condition.

Details regarding any prior pests or diseases

If a tree has had any previous disease or pest issues, this information should be in the report.

Risk assessment

Using this information the consulting arborist will then create a risk assessment covering all the possible hazards that may occur and how likely they are.

Tree care advice

Recommendations regarding how to best take care of each tree, such as by pruning or implementing disease and pest control measures, should also be provided.

Tree management plan

The arborist report should also include a tree management plan, which draws conclusions regarding the trees and/or site in question, to be given to third-parties (i.e. court, developers, architects) and governing bodies (i.e. council).

Supporting evidence

Any supporting evidence, including test results and images, should be included, as well as the methodology that was used by the arborist to create the report.

Who can produce an arborist report

It can be tricky to know who is and isn’t qualified to write up an arborist report, especially when there is so much misinformation on the internet. While some arborists are perfectly able to lop a tree down for you, they might not necessarily be able to craft a report.

How to get an arborist report
Photo: Felix, Pexels.

This is because there are two main types of arborists:

Certified arborist

A certified arborist is a professional who has obtained a Certificate III in Arboriculture. They are qualified to perform tree removal, tree pruning, tree planting, tree health assessments, and emergency tree care work. They may either perform the work themselves or direct a team to do it.

Consulting arborist

A consulting arborist has obtained a higher level of qualification via a Certificate V in Arboriculture. They work with developers, lawyers, council and more, providing expertise and advice to help them plan and problem-solve issues related to trees. They are the only arborists qualified to write arborist reports. Ideally they should also be members of an authority body such as the Institute of Australian Consulting Arborists.

Why the arborist you choose matters

While you might think any old person will do, in reality getting a well-made arborist report is extremely important.

Council restrictions

When it comes to getting the council to approve your development project or tree lopping pursuits, it isn’t easy. Their tight guidelines and restrictions make it essential for you to obtain a certified arborist report – anything less and you’ll just have to do it all again.

Potential hazards

Getting a shoddy report can potentially lead to damage to your property, trees and people who visit the site. Imagine being told a tree is perfectly fine, only to later find out that it was hazardous after it falls down in a storm!


Having a proper arborist report is essential for upholding the integrity of your project and site. It can also save you money and time by avoiding legal issues and project delays associated with an inauthentic one.

How to choose a good provider

Make sure you find a reputable arborist by being an informed consumer. Here are some of the steps you can take to improve your chances of finding a quality provider:

Shop around

Looking at all the different businesses that are out there and getting a few different quotes allows you to get a sense of how much you should (and shouldn’t) be paying.

Verify them

A certified arborist should have a unique certification number which allows you to check their current status. You may also want to ask them for proof of insurance and then verify this with their insurance company. Your arborist should have both workers compensation insurance and personal and property damage insurance. Finally, check all relevant licences and permits.

Use reviews

Researching online reviews (steer clear of commercial websites and use sites like Yelp instead) can help you get a sense of what a provider is like. However, word-of-mouth is often the best way to get advice.

Meet them

Visiting them in person allows you to get a sense of their company culture, customer service attitude and expertise. You can also ask them for references and/or examples of their work.

Put it in writing

Finally, ensure that you discuss what work you want done and have them put it in writing. This will cover you legally.


Regardless of your reasons for getting an arborist report, it is essential that you get one from a qualified consulting arborist. Avoid project delays and legal problems by ensuring that you opt for a reputable provider with plenty of experience.


Mike Smith
Mike Smith
Executive Editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to business leaders and entrepreneurs around Australia and across the world. You can contact Mike here.
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