For the purposes of felling trees, when is a tree not a tree?

When considering what constitutes a tree, people will generally have different views/opinions as to how big it is and whether it should be classified as a tree, a sapling, or anything in between. Taking a purely prescriptive approach as to what defines a tree is not necessarily helpful and may not be appropriate for the different scenarios that people may encounter. That said, please consider the following when determining what course of action to take.

  1. Would I use a chainsaw to fell this tree? If yes, it is a tree. Do not cut it down.
  2. Could I get hurt if this tree fell on me or anyone I am with? If yes, it is a tree. Do not cut it down
  3. Is the tree taller than me? It might be considered to be a tree
  4. Is the tree smaller than me? It is less likely to be considered a tree

For points 3 and 4, what are the risks associated with its removal? What tools am I going to use (not a chainsaw) and do I have appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? If all of this is documented in a risk assessment and the outcome is that the task can be undertaken safely, whether somebody calls it a tree, sapling or anything in between, it is OK to remove it.

Notwithstanding the above, we must always consider the environmental impact of what we do. As Scouts we care for the environment and this means that we care for plants, animals and their habitats. If removing a tree, sapling, or anything in between is going to upset this balance then we should not be doing it.