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.

Planning an Ordinance
Types of Ordinances
Model Ordinance
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