Building An Effective Tree Ordinance

Everyone wants their ordinance to be well-received and effective.  To increase your chances of success, consider incorporating into your ordinance the following characteristics of a successful tree ordinance.


  • Developed with involvement by those that will be impacted by the regulations.

  • Supported by government officials, staff, businesses and the community.

  • Directly addresses identified tree issues and produces outcomes that are closely aligned with community goals and the community forest vision.

  • Compatible with other community programs, plans, policies and regulations.

  • Concise, clear, and understandable; includes necessary details but stays as simple as possible.

  • Uses consistent language and terminology throughout.

  • Defines requirements without including unnecessary justification, background information, or educational language.

  • Provides some flexibility in accomplishing the purpose and intent.

  • Includes only provisions that are enforceable and will be enforced.

In the following pages you’ll find advice on how to get started on building a better and more effective ordinance.  You’ll find advice on how to go about building a development team, setting community goals, and building on other community plans, programs and regulations.

You’ll also find information on the adoption and implementation processes, and the most important aspect of tree regulation—enforcement.

It’s also important to assess the outcomes of your ordinance once it has been implemented, and to plan for tree ordinance maintenance to ensure that you remain aligned with the purpose and intent of your ordinance and are continuing to make progress in achieving your community forest goals.