Tree Protection Bylaw

On August 30, 2016, the City of London passed Bylaw No. C.P.-1515-228—a new Tree Protection Bylaw. It replaces the old tree conservation bylaw in the hopes of protecting more of the Forest City’s tree canopy; specifically London’s distinctive trees. So what does that mean for London residents? A big change to arboriculture regulations.

The new bylaw’s goal is to increase the city’s canopy and implement the Urban Forest Strategy. The bylaw is found on the City of London’s website, but I warn you; it is 44 pages long, full of definitions and might not make the best bedtime reading for those who don’t know much about tree protection. As one of London’s premier tree services companies, it is vital reading for CLC Tree Services though. We will try to enlighten you on some of the more important points the lay person needs to know.

CLC crew in action

City of London’s Tree Protection Bylaw

There are a few definitions that might come in handy for anyone considering tree service work in London.

Definitions:

“Arborist” means an expert in the care and maintenance of Trees and includes an Arborist qualified by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, a certified Arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture, a consulting Arborist registered with the American Society of Consulting Arborists, a Registered Professional Forester or a Person with other similar qualifications as approved by the City Planner.

“Destroy” in relation to Tree or Trees means to cut down, remove, uproot, unearth, topple, burn, bury, shatter, poison, or in any way cause a Tree to die or be killed, or where the extent of Injury caused to a live Tree or disturbance of any part of its Critical Root Zone is such that it is likely to die or be killed, excepting where a Tree and/or its roots are killed by natural causes. The terms “Destroyed” and “Destruction” shall have a corresponding meaning.

“Distinctive Tree” means a Tree that has attained a trunk diameter of 50cm or greater, measured from Natural Ground Level to 1.4m above Natural Ground Level, that is located on a property within the geographic area of the Urban Growth Boundary excluding the Tree Protection Area.

“Good Arboricultural Practices” means the implementation by any Qualified Person of the most recent techniques or methods of Tree management as recommended by the International Society of Arboriculture or their successor.

“Injure” means to harm, damage or impair the natural function, form or Habitat of a living Tree, including its roots within the Critical Root Zone, by any means excepting Injury by natural causes, and includes but is not limited to carving, drilling, injection, exploding, shattering, improper pruning that fails to meet Good Arboricultural Practices, removal of bark, deliberate inoculation of decay fungi , Pest or disease, inserting or driving foreign objects into or through the Tree or its roots, soil compaction, root excavation, suffocation, drowning, burying or poisoning. The terms “Injury”, “Injuring” and “Injured” shall have a corresponding meaning.

“Tree Protection Area” means any geographic area of the City that appears as a Tree Protection Area on Schedule D of this Bylaw, as may be amended from time to time.

There are several more definitions, but these are probably the most salient ones the average homeowner needs to know. Essentially an arborist (expert) uses best tree management practices to maintain and remove as necessary (destroy) trees, AND will now do so in London in accordance with the size of a tree (distinctive trees – 50cm<) and within certain bounds (see maps for tree protection areas in the city).

Important Points to Note;

  • You do not need a permit to trim or prune trees
  • Cultivated orchards, tree farms and plant nurseries are exempt
  • The new by-law applies to landowners, tree care companies, and individuals that remove/prune trees
  • There is no fee for trees the City Planner deems hazardous, has issued a court order against, that has fallen, is falling, or is dead or dying from natural causes
  • The fee to injure or destroy one distinctive tree is $100
  • Fees will take effect as of January 1st, 2017
  • Applications (5 pages) are available from the Urban Forestry office, the Planning Services office, can be mailed out to you or found online
  • An arborist can help fill out the application, write a report on the health and status of a tree and otherwise advise you on the application process
  • Once issued, a tree protection area permit needs to be;
    • posted in a prominent location clearly visible to the public
    • posted 7 days before any work begins, during tree work, and for at least 7 days after any actions are completed
  • Fines for injuring or destroying trees are a minimum of $500 up to a maximum penalty of $100,000

Probably the most important point to note of all though is that maintaining the health of a tree is your best course of action to prevent the destruction of not only your tree, but the Forest City’s tree canopy. With your help, London hopes to increase the canopy to 28% by 2035 and 34% by 2065.Tree with Mulch

If you have any further questions about London’s new Tree Protection Bylaw, feel free to contact the City of London Forestry Staff or CLC Tree Services for more information.

8 Comments

Charlotte &Bill Merryweather

My back yard abuts directly onto a laneway leading into a proposed development at 420 Fanshawe Park Road East. Most trees directly on this site are being removed, even rare ones that Mr. and Mrs. Poole brought from all over the world. My concern are my 35 year old trees at the very back of my yard which would act as a buffer for me to this 142 unit apartment complex. If digging and vehicle pollution occurs along this roadway, I fear that my trees will die. Does this Protective Tree Bylaw protect my trees. The critical root zone area will definitely affected. I am assuming this bylaw protects all urban trees, even on private property. What do you suggest to protect my wonderful trees.

Katherine Krige

I would suggest calling into the office to discuss your trees and what you can do to protect them Charlotte and Bill. Our number is 519-685-0257. I’m sure something can be done to make sure they survive and thrive.

caren hansmann

My neighbors tree branches are hanging on my property damaging my roof. Do I need an application of some kind to trim the branches off my roof?

Katherine Krige

We always recommend speaking with your neighbours first to ensure your relationship stays on solid ground. As far as trimming goes, check with your local municipality first. In London, Ontario, the Tree Protection Bylaw states a permit is not required when — “Pruning is necessary to maintain the health and condition of the Tree and is
carried out in accordance with Good Arboricultural Practices;”.

Hope that helps!

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