Tree ordinances are necessary to protect resources and infrastructure just as any other governmental resources, such as streets, parks, sewers, water, and utilities.
Trees are essential infrastructure. There are several types of ordinances that can regulate the preservation, protection, and planting of trees. These are for properties where some form of development has already taken place. These ordinances would not regulate undeveloped sites, large scale site improvements, or even potential teardowns.
An effective tree preservation ordinance is one that is based on an urban forest management plan. However, many governmental entities do not have a plan in place. We have provided a three-tiered ordinance structure that allows your governmental entity a point to become engaged and opportunities to move to a higher level of ordinance as your time and resources permit.
The gold ordinance includes the same criteria of the silver ordinance but also provides for regulation of the urban forest on private property. Typically, the majority of the urban forest within a governmental entity is on private property. It is critical that proper care, preservation, and planting of trees on private property be incentivized or regulated. The governmental entity has many examples of collective management. For instance, the stormwater ordinance regulates the flow of water across land uses and ownerships, or building permits and inspections are required for building changes or construction. The gold level tree ordinance preserves and protects the community as a whole.
The bronze ordinance is the basic tree preservation ordinance and assumes the governmental entity does not have an urban forest management plan and does not regulate trees on private property. This ordinance sets the stage for community engagement to develop an urban forest management plan and progression to the silver-tiered ordinance.
The silver ordinance recognizes the governmental entity’s urban forest management plan that is based on the USDA Forest Service and Davey Resource Group Sustainable Urban Forestry Guide as its foundation. By basing the ordinance on a plan a governmental entity can update the plan as needed without the challenges of revising an ordinance. The urban forest management plan should be reviewed annually.