Tree Planting and Protection Bonds

Bond requirements serve the purpose of elevating the importance of the trees on a site and encourages compliance with standards and best management practices to ensure tree health and survival.

Bonds and irrevocable letters of credit are required in tree ordinances for the installation of trees at the appropriate time of the year, to cover the cost of replacement of planted trees if they do not survive through a specified  establishment period, or to cover the cost of replacing conserved trees that might be damaged during construction.

When a property owner or developer has completed construction and is required to plant new trees, the season of completion is an important consideration.  The viability of new trees will be significantly affected by the time of year the trees are planted.  If it is outside of the planting season, which can broadly be considered to be December through March in Georgia, then planting should be delayed.

While it is natural to want to plant trees just prior to project completion for both efficiency and aesthetic reasons, when trees are planted at the wrong time, even with the best follow-up maintenance (watering particularly), they often struggle, suffer significant dieback, and eventually have to be replaced.  This is costly.  Instead, communities may ask a developer for a tree planting bond for somewhere between 110 to 130 percent of the total cost to purchase and plant the trees, and upon receipt of the bond will issue a temporary certificate of occupancy.  Then, when the trees are planted by the developer (within a year of project completion), the bond is returned.  If the trees are not planted within a year, the bond is forfeited and the community may use the money to plant trees on public property.

Even when trees are planted at project completion and the Certificate of Occupancy is issued, some communities require a bond for a period of 1, 2 or 3 years, until the trees are well established.  Should trees struggle or die, the developer or property owner must replace the trees, or otherwise forfeit the bond.

In some communities, a bond is required to cover the replacement cost of trees conserved on a development site.  This bond serves to encourage the protection of conserved trees and ongoing maintenance of tree protection fencing.  When trees are damaged or destroyed, if the property owner or developer does not adequately provide remedial maintenance or replacement planting as required by the community, then the  bond may be forfeited.

A road bond may also be required for timber harvesting operations to protect the government from costly repairs to roads from logging equipment and log truck traffic.