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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

 

Latest Tree Ordinance Changes Had No Effect

The changes to the Tree Ordinance that took effect in April 2023 have not reduced tree loss.  Rather, tree loss surged in the last three quarters of 2023 compared to the same time period in 2022.  Healthy tree removal increased by 52%  and illegal tree removal grew by 44%.  Removal of dead, dying, and hazardous trees, which have been more consistent over time, rose slightly by 4% after the new Ordinance was passed.

(Click on image below to enlarge.)

2022 changes to tree ordinance impact  

 Although tree loss data has been provided on a quarterly basis since the third quarter of 2019, annual trends are now clear.  Healthy tree removal has increased by 121% over the past four years and illegal tree removal has more than doubled. The removal of dead, dying, and hazardous (DDH) trees has not grown as much, but is still 7% more in 2023 than 2020.

(Click on image below to enlarge.)

all tree categories thru cy 20231

 

Please click on each tree category below to understand more about the tree loss we are seeing in each category.

Heathy Trees

Key takeaways:

  • Healthy tree removal has increased by 121% over the past four years. 

  • Our Tree Ordinance currently focuses on preserving trees on lots zoned as single-family residential, but the majority of our tree canopy loss is now happening on non-single family residential developments.

  • We may need to strengthen the Tree Ordinance's protection in non-single family residential zoning categories.

DDH Trees

Key takeaways:

  • DDH tree removal rates are not growing as fast as other categories of tree removal, but is still 7% more in 2023 than 2020.

  • Very few DDH permit applications are denied and the DDH approval rate is increasing each year:
     
    • 2020:  No data available
    • 2021:  88% (Qtrs. 2 - 4) 
    • 2022:  91% 
    • 2023:  94%

Illegally Removed Trees

Key takeaways:

  • Illegal tree removal has more than doubled since 2020.

  • The Atlanta Police Department no longer stops illegal tree removal as it is happening and there is no other City agency able to fill the gap.

  • Current fines with no court citations have been ineffective in curbing illegal tree removal.
   

50% Canopy Goal Not Supported in Tree Ordinance Rewrite Directive

As the most recent changes to the Tree Ordinance were going into effect in 2023, City Council passed a non-binding resolution on April 17, 2023 to establish a goal of achieving and maintaining 50% tree canopy cover. The resolution also requested a study every five years to evaluate the effectiveness of the Tree Protection Ordinance in meeting that goal.

We agree that the 50% canopy goal should help guide the development of tree-related initiatives and to monitor the success of those policies and programs.  However, Phase 2 of the Tree Ordinance rewrite is currently underway with no real commitment to achieving a 50% canopy goal. Instead, the official "directive" given by the City to the Tree Ordinance Rewrite committee is to:

•  Promote the preservation and management of trees in Atlanta,

•  Identify and specify opportunities for efficiently and equitably increasing canopy appropriately located throughout the city,

•  While minimizing impacts to developers, home and property owners, the public sector and other stakeholders.

Why Phase 2 of the Tree Ordinance Rewrite May Not Save The Tree Canopy

The directive given to the Phase 2 Tree Ordinance Rewrite committee is purely aspirational, with no actual measurable goals.  For the 50% canopy resolution to be effective, City Council must commit to:

  1. Setting better standards for tree preservation,

  2. Limiting the amount of land that can be disturbed in site development, and

  3. 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.

None of these commitments are included in the current directive, whereas the commitment to "minimize impact to developers" is. At some point, City Council must realize that an effective Tree Ordinance will impact developers' profits, and there is no "minimum" profit loss the development community will accept as long as City Council lets them keep avoiding it.

Also, changes being presently discussed in our Zoning Ordinance rewrite, which is occurring at the same time as the Tree Ordinance rewrite, do not include rezoning for greater tree preservation and planting. When asked how the new Zoning Ordinance will help save the tree canopy, the response is: "The Tree Ordinance rewrite will address this issue." However, zoning ordinances are integral to preserving land for trees, and yet the Zoning and Tree Ordinance rewrites are occurring in silos..

   

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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