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Properties with Most Trees Removed

Click on the map below to see an interactive map of where the greatest number of healthy trees were permitted for removal between January 1 and June 30, 2022.  Each 'X' marks where more than 200 trees were permitted.  Click on each 'X' for permit detail.

Note: Healthy tree loss stopped being reported by the Arborist Division after June 30, 2022.

map of sites where most trees destroyed

latest news flash


Record Number of Trees Lost

This past summer (3rd quarter 2023) we experienced the highest-ever number of tree removals across all categories: healthy, DDH (diseased, dying or hazardous), and removed illegally.  In total, we lost 8,537 trees which means, if the historical data is fairly accurate*, we are now losing trees at double the rate we were losing them four years ago.

Heathy Trees

The City of Atlanta has broken records for three quarters straight for healthy tree loss according to the most recent quarterly reports. We lost more in each of the last three quarters individually than we did in the two quarters before that combined.

The chart below shows the number of healthy trees removed over the past five quarters, with the data for each quarter prior to that being possibly overstated due to a programming error that double-counted trees when a Plan Review permitted trees in more than one quarter.*  The Arborist Division is supposed to have the data for all quarters prior to 3rd Quarter 2022 (calendar year) corrected and republished by year-end 2023.

(Click on the image below to enlarge.)

healthy private property trees removed no covid line

DDH Trees

Although DDH tree removals were a bit lower earlier this year, this past summer (3rd quarter) we experienced the highest-ever number of DDH tree removals, with 2,899 trees removed.

We now have enough quarterly data to confirm, with the exception of the first six months of COVID-19, that there is a seasonal pattern of dead, dying, or hazardous (DDH) tree removal.  The fewest number of DDH permits are issued between October and December, but those permits steadily increase through the following year before dropping off again in the fall. 

(Click on the image below to enlarge.)


Removed Illegally

The number of trees removed illegally dropped significantly last winter, but this summer illegal tree cutting rose to an all-time high of 417 trees. 

(Click on the image below to enlarge.)

ilegal private property trees removed no covid line

Unfortunately, around the same time illegal tree removals were reaching their peak, the police stopped responding to calls about illegal tree removal even though Section 158-33 of the Tree Ordinance states that "In instances in which an individual or firm is found cutting or otherwise destroying a tree without a permit to do so in their possession, the Atlanta Police Department shall require such person or persons to cease such operations until a permit is obtained." Without police enforcement of our Tree Protection Ordinance, the Arborist Division needs to be appropriately staffed 7 days a week to enforce the Tree Ordinance or else, we cannot stop trees from being removed illegally.

*It was discovered in the summer of 2022 that whenever additional trees were added to a Plan Review (construction) permit in a quarter following the quarter the initial permit was issued, the subsequent quarterly report recounted all the trees that had been permitted the prior quarter. Also, there were some trees removed for infrastructure purposes were left off the quarterly reports. After confirming that these programming errors had affected all prior quarterly reports, the Arborist Division stopped producing them on healthy trees but continued producing them for trees removed as dead, dying, or hazardous (DDH) or without a permit (illegally).  This means that while we have historical data on trees permitted as DDH or removed illegally, we presently do not have reliable historical data on healthy tree removal before July 2022.


New 50% Canopy Resolution

City Council passed a (non-binding) resolution on April 17, 2023 to establish a goal of achieving and maintaining 50% tree canopy cover and to request a study every five years to evaluate the effectiveness of the Tree Protection Ordinance in meeting that goal. The 50% goal should help guide the development of tree-related initiatives and to monitor the success of those policies and programs.

For this resolution to serve any real purpose, City Council must now commit to the changes needed not only to the Tree Ordinance, but to the changes being presently discussed in our Zoning Ordinances, to facilitate greater tree preservation as well as the replanting of trees that are removed. Those changes include setting better standards for tree preservation, limiting the amount of land that can be disturbed in site development, and raising recompense fees to the current rate it costs to replace removed trees inch-for-inch.

Presently, the mandated recompense fees do not begin to cover the actual costs of tree replanting nor are most of the recompense fees collected being spent on tree replanting. Only a quarter of the total recompense collected each year is spent on tree replanting; the remainder is spent on salaries, administrative costs, forested land purchases, and tree maintenance. That’s got to stop. We need to start collecting the money required to replant the trees that are removed and use that money to replant trees; otherwise, we are only ensuring a gradual erosion of our tree canopy.


See a tree coming down? Click here for what to do!

Arborist Sign Postings Online

The orange and yellow
sign postings on private property are listed by zip code on the City Arborist Division's website. Please click here to see which trees may be coming down near you, and when the deadlines are to file an appeal.

Sign postings on public property may be found here.

Need to Look Up a Permit?

Click here for instructions on how to look up a tree cuting permit in Accela, the City of Atlanta's online permitting database.  If you already know how to use Accela, click here to go straight to the database.

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