Maintenance, growth and enhancement of the urban forest are important goals of the City. Considering tree protection in the initial stages of construction planning may mean the difference between preserving a healthy tree and having to remove it. Plans created with tree protection in mind help protect the City’s urban forest.

All construction related applications must include a Tree Protection Plan that shows details of tree protection, prepared in conjunction with an arborist report or in consultation with an arborist, when protected trees are in proximity to the proposed work. If the full minimum tree protection zone cannot be provided, a permit to injure the tree must be obtained.

Tree Protection Zones are the minimum required distances where tree protection is to be put in place so that no construction activity of any kind will take place inside the Tree Protection Zone.

A permit to injure a tree under a City Tree Protection By-law is not required if a full tree protection zone is provided.

Tree protection zones are identified in the Tree Protection Policy and Specifications for Construction near trees.

Please note that the size of a Tree Protection Zone depends on the Tree Protection By-law that applies to a specific area. The Tree Protection Zones for trees located in areas protected under Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law are greater and afford greater protection to trees growing in these environmentally sensitive and significant environments.

Table 1 – Tree Protection Zones as they relate to trees protected under Private Tree By-law and Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law.

Trunk Diameter
Minimum Protection Distances Required2
City-owned and Private Trees
Minimum Protection Distances Required
Trees in Areas Protected by the Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law
<10cm 1.2m The drip line3 or 1.2m
10cm – 29cm 1.8m The drip line or 3.6m
304cm – 40cm 2.4m The drip line or 4.8m
41cm – 50cm 3.0m The drip line or 6.0m
51cm – 60cm 3.6m The drip line or 7.2m
61cm – 70cm 4.2m The drip line or 8.4m
71cm – 80cm 4.8m The drip line or 9.6m
81cm – 90cm 5.4m The drip line or 10.8m
91cm – 100cm 6.0m The drip line or 12.0m
>100cm 6cm protection for each 1cm diameter 12cm protection for each 1cm diameter or the drip line
  1. Diameter at breast height (DBH) measurement of tree stem taken at 1.4 metres above the ground.
  2. Tree Protection Zone Distances are to be measured from the outside edge of the tree base.
  3. The drip line is defined as the area beneath the outer most branch tips of a tree.
  4. Converted from ISA Arborists’ Certification Study Guide, general guideline for tree protection barriers of 1 foot of diameter from the stem for each inch of stem diameter

Tree Protection Plan is required for all construction related applications when protected trees are in proximity of the proposed work, to include the following:

Tree Protection Plan must be prepared in conjunction with an arborist report or in consultation with an arborist. Prior to commencing with any demolition or construction activity it is important that an arborist determines the location, species, size and condition of trees on the property and surrounding properties.

Significant trees on private property are protected under Municipal Code, Chapter 813, Article lll known as the Private Tree By-law.

The Private Tree By-law was adopted to preserve significant trees on private property in the City, to assist in sustaining the urban forest in the city and to educate individuals with respect to tree protection measures and alternatives to tree injury and destruction.

If you wish to injure or destroy (remove) a protected tree you must obtain a permit under Private Tree By-law.

All trees situated on City streets are protected under the City of Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 813, Article ll, also known as Street Tree Protection By-law. No objects shall be attached to a tree, including decorative lights without the prior written approval of the General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation.

Tree protection policies and specifications have been developed to protect and preserve city trees. Anyone failing to adhere to the tree protection policies and specifications will be financially responsible for any resulting damage to trees and may be charged under the provisions of the applicable City of Toronto tree by-law.

Urban Forestry maintains City trees in accordance with City standards at no cost to residents. The service delivery may take up to 8 months as clearing hazards after a storm is the highest priority.

Contracting an Arborist to Maintain City-Owned Street Trees

If an owner of a private property that is located adjacent to the City tree wishes to have the required work completed sooner than scheduled, they may apply for permission to have an arborist complete the work at their cost.

Permission is required for any tree maintenance work, including minor pruning, tree planting and integrated pest management. Fax the complete application to Urban Forestry Data Management Centre, at 416-392-1915.

Permission may be applied for using this application form and providing all required information, including (but not limited to) the following:

If you are in the process of obtaining a Permit to Injure or Remove a tree under Street Tree Bylaw, Municipal Code, Chapter 813, II, the Permission would not be required, however, you would still be required to complete the Agreement for Arborists Retained by Private Property Owners to Undertake Work on City Trees and the Certificate of Insurance. You will submit these documents to the Planner in Tree Protection and Plan Review section of Urban Forestry that is reviewing your permit application

Trees situated on City parkland are protected under the Parks By-law. This bylaw prohibits and regulates certain activities occurring either on or adjacent to City parkland which may impact existing trees.

Examples of activities that are prohibited include:

  • Tapping of maple trees
  • Injury of a tree or any part of a tree, or removal of any tree situated in a park, without the written approval of the General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation
  • Installation of decorative lighting in trees in parks, without the written approval of the General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation
  • Encroachments into parkland – An encroachment occurs when an owner intrudes on, in or under the ground space, or in the air space of an adjacent City owned or managed parkland, either deliberately or inadvertently. Common examples of encroachments are fences, decks, pools, gardens, retaining walls, sheds, dumping of grass and debris, and draining of pools. All of these activities are illegal on City owned or managed parkland. You must be aware of your property line.

Examples of activities that require consent and/or access agreements include:

  • When work is being done on private property and homeowners/contractors require vehicular access through public parkland, a Parks Access Agreement must be obtained from the local Parks Supervisor.
  • Any work in a park or work that requires accessing a property through a park shall be carried out in accordance with the City’s Tree Protection Policy and Specifications for Construction Near Trees and any other standards or conditions imposed or set out by the General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation.

If your property is located either entirely or partially within a ravine protected area, you may be required to apply to the City for a permit prior to undertaking any work that includes the injury or removal of a tree, placing or dumping fill or refuse, or altering the existing grade of land.

The Ravine and Natural Feature Protection By-law protects public and private natural areas that are vulnerable to degradation due to removal of trees, changes in grade or lack of management.

In the areas protected by the by-law you may not, without a permit:

  • injure or destroy any tree;
  • change the natural land topography, by excavation or adding soil or other materials on slopes;
  • dump or place any type of debris including garden waste, leaves and branches;
  • construct new or replacement structures or retaining walls.

Tree Protection By-Laws

Regulation of the injury and destruction of trees on both City and privately owned land. Below are tree related By-Laws which are currently in effect within the City of Toronto.

Tree Protection Policies

Ensuring that the City of Toronto achieves it’s goal in the area of urban forestry management of a sustainable urban forest.

Tree Protection Forms

To complete your application, the following documents are required.