It is becoming evermore obvious
that communities are beginning to recognize the benefits that trees
provide in urban environments. Healthy trees reduce air and noise
pollution, provide shade and cooling, furnish habitat for wildlife,
enhance aesthetic and property values and are an important contributor
to community pride and quality of life. More and more communities
have come to realize that in order to protect their tree resources
it is essential to view and manage their trees as a cohesive unit,
or urban forest.
Tree ordinances are among the tools used to attain a healthy and
well-managed urban forest. Tree ordinances alone cannot assure that
tree resources will be improved or even maintained, they simply
provide the means for management activities. If these activities
are not integrated into an overall strategy, problems are likely
to surface rendering the management inefficient and ineffective
leaving the urban forest to suffer.
Larger management views are commonly lacking when ordinances are
developed. Local ordinances are often developed as an answer to
a specific need rather than an overall need for management. For
example, public outcry has resulted in the development of many ordinances
to save “heritage” trees which unfortunately contributes
to the destruction of younger trees. The result may be an unsustainable
urban forest full of older, dying trees and in desperate need of
younger, healthier trees.
Tree ordinances should not be a replacement for a comprehensive
urban forest program. Properly applied, tree ordinances can facilitate
the appropriate management of tree resources.