How to start a tree-felling business in South Africa

Discover everything you should know about starting a tree-felling business in South Africa.

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How can you start your own tree-felling business in South Africa?

South Africa is home to a vast variety of beautiful trees throughout her cities and countryside. Unfortunately, sometimes trees need to be trimmed or removed. For example, if a tree falls over in someone’s garden. This is when a tree-felling business, which trims and cuts trees and removes tree stumps, can help. 

If you want to become an expert tree feller and have a successful business, the first step is to gain experience looking after trees. Add to that experience excellent client service, and your business will be rocking.

So, we spoke to Mickey, owner of Top Chop Tree Felling, to get some first-hand information about the start of her small business.

Be inspired by Mickey’s answers to popular questions about starting a tree-felling business.


What led you to start your own business?

"I needed somebody to cut a tree at my house and I saw an opportunity. Ray Foster was my trainer.” 

What personal qualities do you need to start your own business?

“You need to be willing to do research, make a choice and put your heart into it.” 

What challenges did you experience when starting your business?

“ I had no funds and no experience. Also, not finding the right people to employ.” 

What challenges do you currently experience running your tree-felling business?

“As a result of the pandemic, most people are struggling financially, which hurts the business.” 

Why did you choose to have a tree-felling business?

““I wanted to do something different something that can give me satisfaction. The inspiration for tree-felling happened when tree-fellers came to cut my tree at home.” 

What are the benefits of having your own business?

“To meet all different kinds of people and enjoy their gardens. To restore trees and allow for new growth. Also, to give their trees a chance and to save what we can.” 

Are there disadvantages to having your own business?

“Yes, income fluctuates month-to-month.” 

What advice do you have for starting an accounting business in South Africa?

“Get training and respect trees at all times. They are not our trees but they are lent to us.”

How did you fund your business at the start?

I did not have funding. I bought one machine on my credit card.”

Learn more about funding small businesses

Discover more about business loans or other lending options.

What makes South Africa great for starting a business?

“South Africa inspires people to become entrepreneurs.” 

Is it worth it to have your own small business in South Africa?

“Yes, it is."

It was great to chat with Mickey about her business. Do you need to know more?

Read on if you want to find out more about starting your own tree-felling business.

Learn more about starting a tree-felling business

First things first – get proper training. Training entails learning about how to grow, maintain and manage trees. If you don’t have the required skills and training, you’ll pose a danger to operating tree fellers, the environment and the health and safety of others.

Also, even though your business is all about tree-felling, it will be great if you can help customers when they ask you for more information. They may ask where to plant trees, what fertiliser to use, and how to deal with some diseases.

Where to get training and certification

Get a South African learnership national certificate for arboriculture/tree preservation (NQF level 03 SAQA ID. 65490). 'SAQA' stands for the South Africa Qualifications Authority.

After you have your certificate, it’s best to gain experience by first working for a tree-felling business. Here you learn from the other workers the skills of tree felling in general.

‘Practice makes perfect’ the saying goes, and you’ll have gained sufficient experience to start your own business after a while.

What trees are protected?

There are nearly 50 trees that the National Forests Act of 1988 protects. The Act states that you may not cut, damage or remove any protected trees.

If you do have to cut a protected tree, you first need to apply for a license. For this, contact the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) under Forestry. An official will investigate and, depending on the outcome, may or may not grant a licence.

Get insurance cover

Describe your business to the business insurance company of your choice. Get the right cover for situations like when a tree branch accidentally damages a customer’s property.

Buy the equipment

This will include equipment like chain saws, pruning shears, ladders, gloves, boots, and climbing safety equipment.

Do you still have questions? Find out more about starting your own business today.

Make your start with Yoco

230 000 businesses choose Yoco to get paid by their customers. Choose from Yoco's affordable mobile card machines to take on-site card payments. Also, you can benefit from other convenient payment services, and free tools could help your business from the start and grow.

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions. 

Whether you start your business now or not. You can make your dreams a reality.

Sources: How to Start a Tree Cutting Business, Arboriculture & DALRRD FAQs




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