Tree appraisal: Helping clients with determining tree value

Sometimes we are called in to help with biophysical issues related to trees, sometimes to help with social ones. Today’s assignment was on a 50-100 acre parcel in the Mid-Atlantic. We were retained by a claims investigation firm, who was retained by an insurance company, whose client is a utility line clearance firm who was working for an electric utility.


The property owner seeks damages related to utility vegetation management and we were called in to help. A case like this may involve many factors, such as: is there an easement and if so, what does it provide for? Did a permission specialist contact the owner prior to the work and if so what did the property owner agree to? What were the specifications in the line clearance contract? What are the applicable federal and local reliability standards? In many cases a consulting arborist is asked to address many of these questions. In this case, the claims investigator is addressing those issues. We had a simple assignment to answer two questions: what is the value of the trees removed? And, what is the loss of value in trees as a result of the trimming?

Appraisal assignments can be as simple as a review of photographs or another consultant’s report and rendering a brief written opinion as a desktop exercise. They can be as complex as selecting a method to address an appraisal problem, collecting data in the field, analyzing those data, and reporting on results. They can also involve engagement as a consulting expert or a testifying expert regarding the appraisal if a matter goes to trial.

Often our role is simply to provide the report and we never know how it turns out. This is because most cases settle. Having the facts can help every one identify and discuss the issues and come to an agreement without the time and expense of a trial. Supporting answers to social problems facing people + trees in cities help both coexist.

Training on tree appraisal and other arboricultural consulting practices is available from the American Society of Consulting Arborists.

The Consulting Group at SavATree provides tree appraisal and other arboricultural consulting services to attorneys, insurers, businesses and individuals.