Unnecessary Tree Removal

By Hillary HeathRemoval, Urban TreesComments are off

At Heath Tree Service, we believe in preserving Atlanta’s urban forest.

Atlanta, on average, receives $1.9 million annually in tree removal recompense, according to Atlanta Magazine. A tree removal recompense is a dollar amount paid by contractors and homeowners who remove healthy trees for construction or landscaping reasons or for removing a tree illegally without a permit. The money collected goes into the Tree Trust Fund and is used for installation and maintenance of trees and environmental education.

A recompense is a dollar amount assigned to give value to a natural resource. It represents the lost public value of the trees removed.

The impact of trees on a neighborhood is huge, they can influence property values, energy usage, and aesthetics. Trees benefit the entire community in many ways:

  • Studies show areas of cities with no trees create “heat islands” have temperatures up to 12 degrees higher than areas with trees
  • Trees can increase property value up to 15%
  • According to the USDA Forest Service, “Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30% and save 20-50% in energy used for heating.”
  • A single tree produces approximately 260 pounds of oxygen per year, that is enough for two people.
  • A tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old
  • Trees muffle urban noise almost as effectively as stone walls.
  • Trees can provide a “privacy screen”, blocking the view of your home from the street
  • Studies show patients in hospice that have a view of trees from their window have a higher quality of life and recover more quickly
  • Birds and small animals use trees for food and shelter

You can help protect Atlanta’s tree canopy and preserve the public value of trees. Have your trees pruned regularly, fertilize your trees, and have your trees inspected by an ISA Certified Arborist annually.

When tree removal is necessary, you must apply for the proper permit to remove a tree.

A tree on private property that is more than 6 inches in diameter must receive a permit by the city in order to be removed. There are three different types of permits for tree removal in Atlanta.

  1. Dead, dying, diseased, or hazardous trees are submitted to the Atlanta City Arborist who assesses the tree and grants or denies the permit based on his findings.
  2. Trees impacted by construction are included in building permits but must also be reviewed by the city arborist division.
  3. Landscaping permits can be issued as well and the plans are reviewed by the city arborist division.

Trees removed for landscaping or construction reasons are assessed a recompense amount. The amount of the recompense is determined by the City of Atlanta and the City Arborist. Trees can be planted in place of the ones removed in place of a recompense, but it must meet the specifications for replacement.

Violation of the Atlanta Tree Protection Ordinance is a criminal offense.

If a tree is removed illegally the first fine is $500 and it is $1000 or jail time for all subsequent offenses.

The most notable fine for tree removal goes to Tyler Perry. According to WSBTV, Mr. Perry was fined $177,146 for illegal tree removal during the 2007 construction of his Paces Ferry mansion.

A Buckhead resident was fined $52,000 in 2011 when the neighbors contractor illegally removed trees on both sides of the property line. The neighbor was fined $41,000.

In July 2015, a developer cut down five, healthy 150 year old trees on Prospect Ave. in the Ormewood Park neighborhood of Atlanta -supposedly without a permit. There is an ongoing investigation from the city to see if the developer received the permits. The three Poplars and the two giant White Oaks were part of the original forest of what is now Atlanta.

Atlanta’s forest is worth protecting.

It adds value to our neighborhoods, reduces energy costs, keeps us healthy, and cleans our air. Unnecessarily removing trees has an effect on your wallet and your quality of life.