Find out the arborist report criteria for developing a site in Surrey.

An arborist report and legal tree survey are required when developing a site.

Your arborist report must inventory and assess all the Bylaw protected trees on your property and any trees on adjacent properties that may be impacted by your development.

The report will also require a Tree Inventory and Assessment Table, a Tree Preservation Summary Sheet, and Tree Summary by Species Sheet. Reports must be complete, as per requirements below, for review and comments. Failure to meet the minimum requirements may result in a return of the report until deficiencies are completed.

Arborist Reports are to be submitted by a qualified arborist.

The following components require a signature by an ISA Certified Arborist for final acceptance

  • Tree Preservation Summary Sheet
  • Plans
  • Overall Report

Reports missing significant information or that have not addressed previous comments may be returned without comment until they are found to be complete.

It is the responsibility of the Certified Arborist to obtain all the tools and training necessary to be able to submit files meeting all the City requirements of the application.

For later stage submissions, highlight the changes for a faster review.


Acronym Glossary

DP Development Permit
BP Building Permit
CL Comfort Letter. See requirements below in Comfort Letter subcategory
FuL Follow-up Letter. See requirements below in Comfort Letter subcategory.
TCP Tree Cutting Permit, as per the Surrey Tree Protection Bylaw, 2006 No. 16100 latest requirements.
TPZ  Tree Protection Zone, as per the Surrey Tree Protection Bylaw, 2006 No. 16100 latest requirements
CRZ Critical Root Zone; area of highest risk for compromising the health and safety of a tree if damaged.
DBH Diameter at Breast Height. Industry standard for measuring the diameter of the trunk of a tree.
PL Property Line
LCR Live Crown Ratio. (Crown Height/Tree Height) x 100
Certified Arborist An Arborist Certified by the International Society of Arboriculture who maintains current TRAQ certification
TRAQ Tree Risk Assessment Qualification. Current industry standard for assessing the condition of a tree for safety in relation to a target.
ROW Right of Way
OCP Official Community Plan
PRC The Parks, Recreation, and Culture Department
TIAT Tree Inventory and Assessment Table


Report Requirements

Reports must meet the requirements designated in each of the following categories:

  • The City of Surrey is in the process of adopting Bluebeam to assist with internal communication and the review process. The intent is to improve the service we provide to the applicants, but in order to meet this goal, documents will be requested to be submitted in a specific digital format. More information will be provided soon with the official roll-out.
  • Written comments are to be provided with all submissions subsequent to a memo response. Comments are to be incorporated into the report or provided on Arborist Letterhead. Comments are meant only for communication and acknowledgement of response to all memo items. Unless otherwise noted, all claims are to be demonstrated in the report or related submission documents.
  • Limit the number of locations that the same information is provided. Eliminate or minimize extraneous text, charts, etc. Avoid opportunities for error, misinformation, or slowing the review process. If changes are required and data is conflicting within the report, reports may not be accepted.
  • Highlight the latest revisions between each submission.

Must contain the categories shown in the Tree Inventory and Assessment Template with all fields completed for required trees, which include the following, subject to variation as determined by City Staff:

  • All Protected Trees within the site
  • All trees on City boulevards (regardless of size)
  • All trees being removed from future City roads that are being created as part of the subdivision agreement
  • All trees within non-dedicated (private property) greenways and rights of way, and buffers
  • All trees within riparian areas, as per the latest OCP Sensitive Ecosystems (DP3) requirements and City of Surrey Zoning Bylaw Streamside Protection (Part 7a) requirements (to be retained unless determined otherwise by City of Surrey Staff)
  • All trees with a TPZ that falls within 4 meters of the PL, or a trunk within 10 meters of site disturbance, or which otherwise may be affected by construction on the site

Trees included in a separate section of the Tree Inventory and Assessment Table, but without comment for retention or removal, are to include (subject to City Staff direction):

  • Park trees: All trees within dedicated or City purchased park space (all trees within these areas are to be shown as to be retained. Coordination for retention or removal is to happen through PRC).
  • City owned trees: All trees within City boulevard.
  • Off-site trees: All trees that are off-site and not shared with the subject site.

Explanation of categories within the Tree Inventory and

  • ID# - All tree ID numbers are to be a combination of a 2-3 digit sequential number (i.e. 01, 02, 03, ...; assigned in the office and coordinated with the plan) followed by a dash followed by the field tag number.
    • The sequential numbers are to be assigned based on surveyed plan location and increasing sequential numbers are to be adjacent to the previous number on the plan. For example, the first tree to be assigned a number may be in the top left corner of the plan and have a field tag number of 4820, it would become 01-4820. The tree next to it on the plan may have field tag number 27. It would become 02-27.
    • The sequential number is assigned to coordinate with the plan so that all sequential numbers are adjacent on the plan and yet are also listed in order on the Tree Inventory and Assessment Table by Category.
    • All sequential numbers should be assigned to on-site and shared trees first, then City boulevard trees, then off-site trees, and lastly, City park or natural area trees. The Tree Inventory and Assessment Table may still be organized by tree location as a result.
  • Surveyed - Indicate whether the tree is accurately identified on the Legal Tree Survey accompanying the report. (yes/no)
  • Location - Identify ownership of the tree (on-site, off-site, shared, City boulevard, Park, etc.)
  • Common Name, Botanical Name, DBH, LCR, Canopy, as per industry standards and the Surrey Tree Protection Bylaw 2006, No. 16100
  • Condition - Comment on structural and health condition of the tree using current industry standards. List all relevant information necessary to accurately assess retention suitability. Deficiency of explanation in this category may result in an incomplete review of the report and requirement for resubmission and/or may require field verification by City Staff.
  • Comments - Justify recommendation to remove/retain. Note if any assessment is based on current construction plans only (plans could modify to retain an otherwise suitable tree). Deficiency of explanation in this category may result in an incomplete review of the report and requirement for resubmission and/or may require field verification by City Staff.
  • Retain/Remove - Clearly define the recommendation for all tree in the report except trees on Park land, or unless otherwise requested.
  • TPZ - Provide the measurement at which barriers are to be built.

    Two Plans are required: the Removal and Retention Plan and the Replacement Tree Plan.

    Plans must be legible at 11x17 printing scale. Larger sites are to have both a single continuous area as the overall context or site plan and also be split among separate sheets with a match-line relating different areas, Split sheets are required upon request.

    Trees are to be plotted on the plans in accurate locations based on a legal tree survey. Trees plotted without a legal surveyed location need to be clearly marked as such and are subject to survey confirmation.

    *Note: Trees proposed for retention based on survey location that are later requested for removal due to inaccurate plan representation or survey information will be subject to the loss of bonding.

    All Arborist Report plans need to be coordinated with the latest grading plans, servicing plans, and the Key Plan and retained tree TPZs shown on approved documents with reference to the Arborist Report for detailed instructions.

    All plans are required to include the following items, legible and CLEARLY LABELED. Missing labels may result in a return of the report without comment due to insufficient information:

    • bar scale, including 1m increments
    • PL Boundary, including any changes from existing to proposed.
    • Legible tree ID numbers and legible symbols indicating retention, removal, or replacement tree. Tree ID numbers are to be coordinated with the Tree Inventory and Assessment Table.
      • See Tree Inventory and Assessment Table pull-down menu above for directions on how to label trees on the plan.
    • Relevant site features, properly labeled, such as retaining walls, existing hardscape to be retained or removed, significant vegetation other than Bylaw protected trees, streams, grading plan info, known services, electrical transformer locations, driveway letdowns or proposed plan features, or anything relevant to determining retention/removal suitability of trees or impact to site design.
    • road names
    • north arrow
    • site address
    • project number
    • ROWs, easements, or other boundaries typically captured in a land title.
    • Streamside protection areas (top of bank).
    • The tree location symbols are to be overlaid onto a plan showing the proposed site layout (roads, building footprints, etc.). For subdivision files, zoning setbacks are to be drawn and a building footprint study may be required upon request.
    • If the developing site is large and covered by a closed-stand of cottonwood and alder:
      • individual cottonwoods and alders may be counted within a typical sample area of a minimum 10 m x 10 m, and the total number may be extrapolated from the sample area.
      • All other tree species growing within the stand need to be surveyed and assessed.
      • All alders and cottonwoods with a shared property line boundary need to be identified.
      • All alders and cottonwoods not in a closed stand must be mapped and may require assessment upon request.

    Removal and Retention Plans are to include:

    • Grading and Servicing coordination.
    • TPZs and the additional 1.5m no-build zone.

    Replacement Tree Plan

    • Individual lots are to be numbered on subdivision files.
    • Where landscape plans are required, the replacement trees are shown on the landscape plan rather than on the tree removal/retention plans.
    • Tree Protection Barriers with dimensions.
    • In subdivision plans, the number of replacement trees is based on the lot size, as per the latest Tree Protection Bylaw 2006, No. 16100.

      Tree Preservation Summary sheet template 

      Tree Preservation by Species template

      • For purposes of the Tree Preservation Summary sheets and the calculation of replacement trees:
        • Any tree that is entirely within the developing site, and any shared tree (where any part of the trunk of that tree touches a property line shared with another privately owned property) is considered to be an on-site tree.  However, the assessment table must indicate that the tree is a shared tree and a letter indicating agreement to remove the tree, signed by the co-owner of that tree, must be submitted along with the arborist’s report.
        • Any tree that is entirely outside the developing site (no part of the trunk of that tree touches the property line) is considered an off-site tree.  A separate tree cutting permit application signed by the owner of that tree is required, and separate fees and cash-in-lieu are required.
        • Any tree that falls within an existing boulevard, or within a proposed road dedication area, or touches the property line separating private land from City land) is considered an on-site tree and is therefore subject to replacement tree requirements if it is being removed.
        • Any tree that falls within a dedicated park area, dedicated greenway, dedicated riparian area, or dedicated natural area, is to be shown as retained, and should be included in the line in the table that reads:  “Protected Trees to be Retained in Proposed Open Space/Riparian Areas.”

        Good photographs provide City staff with the information necessary to make decisions without requiring a site visit. If condition (as opposed to location) is justification for removal or retention of a tree, the specific reason provided in the report should also be documented visually. Photos may be required upon request. Inability to provide required images may result in a scheduled field visit by staff and delay of review of the report.

        Photos are to be clear, in colour, clearly labeled with tree tag ID numbers.

          The following documentation is to be provided with submission of the Arborist Report:

          • Legal Tree Survey - required with initial submission
            • The acquired surveyor should be well versed in identifying, measuring, and mapping trees.
            • Any missed trees may warrant requirement for resurveying and confirmation
            • Trees intended for retention, but later lost due to inaccurate survey information are subject to loss of bonding plus additional possible requirements, restrictions and investigation.
          • Grading plan - provide latest version with each submission
          • Servicing plan - provide latest version with each submission
          • Sensitive Ecosystem modifications for a DVP - if applicable, for reference only
          • P15 plans - if applicable

            Barriers must be installed as per the Tree Protection Bylaw 2006, No. 16100 latest requirements and the approved Arborist Report requirements.

            Note that barriers are measured from the outside of the trunk in the field and therefore should be drawn on the plan as 6 x DBH (per the Bylaw) plus an additional 1/2 DBH.

            A modification of barriers may be considered when real world root zone locations are identified. Root zone exploration is encouraged and may be required upon request. Additional information justifying existing root zone locations is encouraged to be provided whenever available (i.e. existing barriers to root growth, extraneous conditions, etc.)

            A Comfort Letter is typically required if any work is to be done within or near the designated Tree Protection Barrier location. See Comfort Letter requirements below. Failure to have an approved Comfort Letter on file before work commences, or to comply with Comfort Letter requirements is considered a violation of the protected tree(s) and may lead to a combination of investigation, withholding of bonding, fines, mitigation requirements, etc.

              Comfort Letter Template for landscape Architect and Engineer. 

              Comfort letter Template for arborist

              It is the Owner/Developer's responsibility to coordinate the Arborist to be on-site per the Comfort Letter requirements. Failure to do so will result in investigation that could lead to loss or delay of security release, fines, additional mitigation requirements or other requirements. A Stop Work or Stop Inspections may be placed on a project until all requirements have been satisfied.

              A Comfort Letter is to be provided any time work is to happen in or around the Tree Protection Zone and is required before a Tree Protection Barrier is removed in accordance with the Tree Protection Bylaw 2006, No. 16100.

              All Comfort Letters must be followed by a Follow-up Letter from the acquired Arborist, within two (2) days of the completion of the work to be eligible for a retained tree bonding review.

              Failure to properly notify the Arborist before work commences, failure to follow any requirements within the Comfort Letter, failure to have an approved Comfort Letter on file, and failure to comply with Arborist recommendations is considered a violation of the protected tree(s) and may lead to a combination of investigation, withholding of bonding, fines, mitigation requirements, etc.

                There are many ways of caring for trees other than only removal and retention. All options should be considered to retain a tree. Certified Arborists should consider all options to retain the trees and provide such recommendations, under good ethical practices, whenever possible. Comment on alternatives to removal should be properly addressed when feasible and/or upon request and are to be included within the Tree Inventory and Assessment Table when applicable.

                Mitigation options may include a combination of:

                • a watering plan,
                • specified pruning practices,
                • treatment of any health, structural, or noted damage concerns.
                • other industry practices (i.e. deep root/mycorrhizae injections, soil amendments, mulching, etc.)

                  If you are applying for a TCP within the Bird Nesting Window, generally between March 1st – August 31st, the City will require a Bird Nesting Report from a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) prior to issuance of the TCP.

                  In order to obtain a Tree Cutting Permit, the following minimum requirements must be met:

                  • Submit a Tree Cutting Permit Application for on-site and shared trees.
                  • Permission is required from the neighbouring property owner for the removal of all shared trees.
                  • A separate Tree Cutting Permit Application is to be submitted for all off-site trees from the neighbouring property owner. All off-site trees are to be shown as retained until the application is received.
                  • All fees are to be paid.
                  • Separate fees are to be paid for off-site tree removal.
                  • CL requirements must be met, if applicable.
                  • Barriers must be installed and approved, if applicable.
                  • An Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) permit is to be issued.
                  • Related planning files (SD, DP, DVP, etc.) must be completed prior to issuance unless otherwise noted.
                  • Bird nesting window requirements must be met when applicable.
                  • Additional requirements, as laid out during the Planning review process must be completed.

                    For more information, call 604-591-4675 and leave a voicemail or email
                    Include the Surrey City Project number and site address as well as contact information along with your question.