Industry News: Tree Appraisal

Q: Two 50-ft tall white oak trees were mistakenly removed by a power company. What's their value?

Thursday, December 31, 2015  

Q: Two old white oak trees over 50 feet tall were mistakenly removed by a power company on the property of our rural West Virginia cabin. The company has admitted its mistake and has said it is responsible for "making it right." We are wondering what the value of such trees would be and whether you have any advice on how to proceed.

A: Trespass damages to trees are a common occurrence where utilities exist. Utility companies have a legal mandate to keep electric power line facilities clear of vegetation and to keep electric services in working order. The courts have traditionally given utility companies a wide birth when it comes to meeting this mandate. However, that does not mean they can do whatever they wish to your property. Apparently, your electric service company has exceeded its electric line vegetation clearance obligations, and it has inadvertently removed your trees. This is one of many situations where a plant appraisal is called for.

Plant appraisal is a complex and exacting process that involves a specific set of standardized procedures that are used to develop an opinion of appraised value for your trees, the details of which are far too lengthy to describe in this forum. What I can say is that the purpose and use of the trees prior to the damage has great influence on their value. For example, an amenity tree will likely have far greater value to a homeowner than a forest tree would have to someone seeking timber value or stumpage value. Depending on your situation and how you used your trees, I might suggest using amenity value in your case.

The basic procedure starts with collecting evidence from the site, including the species, locations, conditions, and sizes of the trees. Then, market data is required that reflects local conditions where those tree species are bought and sold. Finally, the objective analysis and processing of that information is used to produce a reliable appraised value. Depending on the situation, the value of trees can be substantial ‹often far greater than one might expect. You need an experienced professional plant appraiser to provide an opinion on the amenity value of trees. The cost of a professional plant appraisal that is performed by an experienced appraiser is usually well worth the expense.

If you would like to know more about plant appraisals, I presented on the subject and published a Powerpoint presentation at

Just go to the bottom of the page and click on the presentation titled "Amenity Tree Appraisal"


Responder: Marty Shaw, RCA #470, Franklin, TN