Purpose and Intent

This section of your tree ordinance should include the specific purpose(s) of your tree ordinance–which often includes a summary of the functions and benefits of trees–and the intent of the regulations included in the ordinance.

The purpose and intent of the tree ordinance should be specific to your community.  Use your community vision and goals to develop a concise purpose statement.  Describe your intent with these goals in mind.


As introduced on the Purposes of Tree Ordinances page, the purpose of any tree ordinance is to provide the basic framework for the conservation and management of community trees, but tree ordinances can be adopted for a number of reasons.  The purpose of your tree ordinance should be clearly stated at the beginning of the document, after either the Title or the Administration section.

For example:

The purpose of the tree ordinance is to provide the community with a framework for tree management and achieving our community forest vision and goals.

The purpose of the tree ordinance is to require the conservation of mature trees to maintain the historic character of the community. 

The purpose of the tree ordinance is to utilize trees as green infrastructure and for the valuable benefits they provide to citizens, businesses, and the community as a whole.


In most ordinance, the purpose section is where communities list the benefits of trees.  The functions and benefits of trees are more or less consistent from ordinance to ordinance.  Together they include the environmental, economic, and social benefits of trees.  A compilation of the many tree benefits listed in Georgia tree ordinances can be downloaded here.


Clearly stating the intent of the ordinance up front is important to establish the context of the regulations that follow.  This intent can be general, as the first example below, or can be much more specific, as in the second example.

The intent of the tree ordinance is to require specific amounts of healthy trees, both conserved and planted, on developed and undeveloped properties to produce the quality and quantity of tree canopy cover that will meet community goals now, and in the future.

The intent of the tree ordinance is to increase the community’s tree canopy cover from 45 percent to 50 percent within 25 years and to conserve our existing native forest ecosystems.

Your intent should be clear and accurate.  And, keep the intent positive.

It may be important to let the community know what is NOT the intent of the ordinance, especially if there are unfounded fears that a certain restriction will be included.  But, do this in meetings and in information distributed to the community instead of in the intent section of the ordinance.

For example, concerns that every tree on private property will be regulated or that a person’s ability to develop or use their property will be restricted by the tree ordinance might need to be addressed early in the tree ordinance development process.  Address these concerns directly and be specific, clear and accurate about the intent of the tree ordinance throughout the process.