Tree Removal Permits

Tree removal permits provide a direct way for a community to control the conservation of trees.  The tree removal permitting process also provides  opportunities to discuss tree health, risk, and proper maintenance with tree owners.

Tree removal permits found in Georgia tree ordinances are required for a variety of different tree types, sizes, ownerships and activities.

In many cases the requirement for a tree removal permit applies to the removal of trees as part of the development process, although in some tree ordinances communities state that “an approved tree plan shall constitute an approved tree removal permit”.

The treatment of an approved tree plan as a tree removal permit reduces the time and costs for extra paperwork and application fees for developers.  While the tree plan requires an approval, a separate permit is not necessary.


In Georgia, at least 44 communities have some form of a tree removal permit that applies to trees on private property, either developed or undeveloped.  A list of these communities, developed by searching in Municode, can be downloaded here.

Some communities also require a tree removal permit prior to the removal of a public tree, an excellent addition to the public tree management section of an ordinance.

In some communities the tree removal permit applies only to trees on public property, but in other cases applies to private property, either undeveloped or developed, residential or commercial or a combination of these conditions.

When tree removal permits are applicable to developed residential properties, the permit usually applies only to trees in a certain category (specimen), or above a minimum size (DBH), or to the removal of trees over a certain number in a specified time period.

In Garden City, Section 90-267 of their tree ordinance states that residential property owners must apply for a permit to remove trees, but no fee is charged until more than 3 trees have been permitted for removal in a calendar year.  If a tree 8 inches DBH or greater is removed without a tree removal permit, a fine equivalent to three (3) times the city permit fee is assessed.

The City of Albany requires a tree removal permit, but exempts single-family residential properties, as well as other land uses and situations described in detail in their Tree Protection ordinance.  Click here to see the exemptions section of this ordinance.

The City of Montezuma requires a tree removal permit for the removal or damage of any tree on city property.  Click here to review this section of their tree ordinance.  A site plan is required for the removal of trees on development sites, as described in their Tree Protection section of their tree regulations.

The City of Decatur has a process that requires a tree information permit for developed, residential property when trees are removed so that the city can monitor compliance with the additional requirement that no more than 3 protected trees be removed in any 18-month period.

In Decatur, protected trees include any tree 6 inches DBH or larger that is healthy and structurally sound, any tree conserved or planted to meet tree ordinance requirements regardless of size, and all trees growing on public property.

After 3 trees are removed in 18 months, a tree removal permit is required.  Decatur requires a tree disturbance permit for land disturbance or site development activities that will affect more than 20% of a protected tree’s tree protection zone.  Click here to read more about these requirements in Decatur’s Tree Protection Ordinance.