Planting trees for Bristol

The Council’s Area Committees control access to most of the funding available for tree planting, though Bristol’s citizens and its community groups can still advocate for how the funds are spent and we can still sponsor tree planting  in streets, parks and other green spaces.

Using Development money

When it comes to planting trees, there are a number of funding sources available, ranging from developer contributions agreed because they need to fell trees and must replace them elsewhere in accordance with the Bristol Tree Replacement Standard (page 20-21). These are called Section 106 agreements. Funds can also come from a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) imposed on a development site. The allocation of these some of these funds is now under the control of Area Committees.

The Area Committee Map

BCC Area Committees
BCC Area Committees Key

Donors such as Bristol University and a various of Bristol businesses also fund tree planting.

Private Tree Sponsorship

Planting in streets

The planting of street trees is tightly controlled for safety reasons, but if you want to add to what is, environmentally, one of our most important tree stocks, then the things to consider are the width of pavement, grass verge or whether there is a stump or tree site already available.

If it is a new site, then the pavement needs to be at least 2.2 metres wide, otherwise a small build-out will be necessary. This can make planting very expensive, assuming that Highways agrees to allow planting to go ahead. For example, the cost of the pit and build-out needs to be added to the cost of the tree itself. If Highways is planning a build-out anyway, then this might be an opportunity to plant a new tree at a much-reduced cost.

If you wish to replace a tree stump or plant a tree in an empty pit where there was once a tree, then this might be still possible even if the pavement is less than 2.2 metres wide, so long as services have not already been installed there. A stump, or a replacement tree in an empty pit, can be replaced by a new tree for £295, the same as the sponsorship cost.

Planting in open public spaces

Trees can be planted free of charge if you wish it to be part of the primary school project called One Tree Per Child which helps introduce school children to the pleasures and benefits of planting and caring for trees.

If you want a more substantial tree, then it too needs to go onto the tree planting plan and be checked for safety and suitability.

Species choice is controlled tightly by the Council as they carry the cost of maintaining the tree for decades and need to protect the biodiversity of the city. For more information on this see our recent blog – Choosing trees for public spaces – how Bristol City Coucil dose it.

Can I sponsor a new tree?

You or your community can sponsor a tree that hasn’t been planted yet. This might be for a celebration such as a wedding or a birthday, or for a living memorial – or just because you love trees. The costs of sponsorship is quite small – especially if your community can help:

  • £295 for the Council to provide the tree, plant it and water it for two years to make sure it establishes.
  • £175 for the Council to provide the tree and plant it. You are responsible for watering it until it becomes established.

Finding a tree you can sponsor

  1. Visit the Council’s TreeBristol sponsorship map to locate a new tree site you can sponsor.
  2. View and select any tree icon on the map to find out more and make your decision.
  1. Once you have decided, click on View (Adobe PDF format) to open the Sponsorship form.
  2. The form will use a unique tree reference based on the site you have selected – in the example above its: Site: Rockside Drive; tree: Null; plot: 100008.5.
  3. Save the form by selecting File/Save as and select where to save it. You can then email the form to
  4. If you prefer, you can print the form off direct, complete it and post it to TreeBristol at PO Box 3176, Bristol, BS3 9FS.

When the form is received, the Council will check that the site is still available. If the tree is not available, you will be asked to choose another site. The Council will then advise you how to pay, confirm your sponsorship and, once the tree is planted, send you a certificate and a site map of your tree so you can visit it.

Remember, to give your tree its best chance of survival, it will only be planted during the planting season which is between the beginning of December and the end of the following March.

If you would like to learn more, visit TreeBristol on the Council’s website. These are their terms and conditions.

How can I Volunteer?

If you would like to volunteer to help us plant more trees in Bristol’s Urban Forest, please contact us.

Some Bristol City Council resources

Bristol Development Framework Core Strategy

Planning Applications Supplementary Document

TreeBristol FAQs

Tree planting design guide notes

Tree planting request process

Guidelines describing the selection of sites and approvals

Decision flowchart – who decides what and when

Tree planting pavement guidelines

Tree Pit Specification

How species choice should be done

Tree planting data by species, genus & family