Trees, woodland and forestry

Tree management

Landowner’s duty of care

Landowners are responsible for the care, maintenance and safety of all trees on their land. Trees should be regularly assessed and remedial works carried out to make sure they do not pose a danger to other people or property.

Best practice

Before a landowner carries out any tree works, best practice can be achieved through:

  • Hiring a qualified tree surgeon. Make sure this is done by a suitably qualified and trained professional tree surgeon covered by public liability insurance
  • Understanding your rights and risks when pruning trees
  • Making sure the tree is kept safe when work is being done

Overhanging trees and branches

Tree owners don't have to trim their trees or hedges to prevent them from crossing over a boundary. Trees that overhang property boundaries may be pruned back by the neighbour to the boundary line provided the tree is not protected. We encourage neighbours to discuss their plans with each other before carrying out any tree works. Any cut branches must be offered back to the tree owner.

Pruning branches back to the boundary may have implications for the stability of the tree. Where, as a result of bad practice, the tree is considered unsafe, the neighbour who instructed the works can be held liable for any damages incurred.

Felling Licences (Forestry Act)

If you want to fell trees, whether protected or not, a Felling Licence may be required. The Forestry Act governs tree felling and permission should be sought from Scottish Forestry. Any tree felling carried out without a licence or other permission is an offence, unless it is covered by an exemption.