A tree ordinance defines how to manage and care for public and/or privately owned trees and are meant to help build a healthy and sustainable community forest.

Some ordinances apply only to street trees, while others apply to all public and privately owned trees. Many communities adopt tree ordinances when citizens perceive an immediate need to protect trees.

A well-designed tree ordinance can take months or years for communities to write, but can provide many benefits to people living in the community. Tree ordinances should be formulated by a tree board or department.

How to develop new tree ordinances or revise existing ones.

  • Get started: download GFC Tree Ordinance Development Guidebook. This guide was designed to assist communities with revising existing ordinances and developing new ones. It provides information ranging from how to form a working group to developing a draft tree ordinance.
  • Review community tree ordinances: A tree ordinance evaluation form helps communities identify their own unique situation and future needs. A sample evaluation form is included in the Tree Ordinance Development Guidebook.
  • Review this sample tree ordinance will help provide a framework to create a tree ordinance.

Helpful Resources

TitleDescriptionDocument Type
Glossary of Tree Ordinance Terms

Guide includes a list of tree ordinance terms.

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Recommended Community Tree Ordinance Tree Conservation Standards

Download guide for recommended conservation standards, tree care and maintenance practices, recommendations for utility corridors, tree Selection and planting standards, design standards for trees plus more.

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Sample Tree Ordiance

This document provides an example of basic formatting and verbiage to include in a Tree Ordinance.

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Tree Ordinance Development Guidebook

This guide provides information ranging from how to form a working group to developing a draft tree ordinance.

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