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Stein Discusses Pennsylvania Tree Ordinances

By Stein Tree
Posted on December 30, 2019

Pennsylvania, translated from Latin to mean “Penn’s Woods,” was both a fitting and accurate name for this region. Approximately 58 percent, or roughly 16.8 million acres, of land in Pennsylvania, is a forest. Trees have played a vital role in the lives and communities of Pennsylvania, and that was planned from the start with tree ordinances.

What Is A Tree Ordinance?

town sidewalk with trees, tree ordinances

A tree ordinance is a document that helps protect and manage a community’s trees. The ordinance can regulate tree planting, maintenance, and removal on both public and private property within that municipality. The ordinance can also specify tree requirements, such as the size, spacing, quality, quantity, location, and even the type of trees allowed to be planted in certain areas.

Willian Penn drafted the first tree ordinance in America while he was planning early settlements near Philadelphia. One effect of his action was that colonists planted trees along streets to emulate the European cities they came from. Tree ordinances became more detailed around the 20th century. In 1907, Pennsylvania authorized municipal tree commissions, which oversee tree ordinance administration and other urban forestry actions.

Types of Tree Ordinances

According to the International Society of Arboriculture a tree ordinance usually falls into 3 basic categories:

  • Street tree ordinances, which focus on the planting and removal of trees within public rights-of-way.
  • Tree protection ordinances, which focus on the protection and maintenance of native species or historically significant trees.
  • View ordinances, which focus on conflict resolution between property owners that arise when trees block views or sunlight.

Other ordinances that are indirectly related to the community aspect of trees also exist. A municipality may use a timber harvest ordinance, which can regulate the commercial and industrial use of trees for wood products. Ordinances regarding subdivision and land development can also address trees.

Creating a Tree Ordinance

Developing and drafting a tree ordinance can take a lot of time and effort. Those interested in creating a tree ordinance for their community will need to define what the purpose of the ordinance will be, setting the jurisdiction of the local government, policies carrying out the various ordinance provisions, and many more.

A tree ordinance is an effective tool that communities use to enhance and preserve their trees and all of the benefits that come with them. More than 100 municipalities in Pennsylvania have tree ordinances, and those ordinances keep those trees and communities looking beautiful.

Trust Stein for Your Tree Care Needs

Stein Tree Service has been providing skilled tree care services to residents, businesses, and municipalities for over 35 years. We care about trees, and tree ordinances help communities maintain proper tree care. For a free consultation about tree care services such as tree trimmingtree removal, emergency storm clean up, and more, contact us today.




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