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Tree Protection By-law

Tree Protection By-Law


On August 22nd, City staff proposed a new Tree Protection By-law to the City's Planning and Environment Committee (PEC). This by-law would update and replace the existing Tree Conservation By-law. Planning and Environment Committee voted in favour of the proposed by-law. It went to vote by City Council on Tuesday, August 30, 2016, and was approved with a 12-1 vote.


ReForest London is very happy to see progress being made to protect trees on private land by closing some loopholes in the existing bylaw and protecting our biggest and most precious trees.


We've received some questions about the proposed by-law, and so wanted to give an overview of some of the key details (below).


Protected Tree Size by City

The by-law creates protection of trees from both injury and removal under two different scenarios:

1) Trees in Environmental Protection Areas:

 Trees in this category are protected by virtue of being located in an "Environmental Protection Area" defined by the by-law itself. It essentially aims to delineate important natural areas, woodlots and open spaces within the City, and ensure that ALL trees within those areas are protected (save for those classified as "Noxious Weeds" under the Noxious Weed Act). 

The by-law does so through a series of maps: these maps are included as Parts 2 - 5 in the agenda items on the City of London website (


A permit will be required to damage or remove any trees within an Environmental Protection Area.


2) Distinctive Trees:


Regardless of where they are located within the city, all trees 50 cm or larger in diameter (measured at 1.4 m above ground) will be protected from cutting. This will help protect some of the biggest trees in our neighbourhoods.


(Note: You may see a threshold of 75cm referred to in the staff report. The 50 cm threshold was a change voted on by PEC to protect more trees.  ReForest London presented at the public participation meeting at PEC and encouraged this change.)


A permit will be required to damage or remove any Distinctive Trees.


Additional Points:

  • The new permit process does not completely prohibit the removal of trees. Rather, it aims to ensure any trees are only removed when truly necessary.
  • There will be no fee for people requesting a permit to remove a tree in either an EPA or a Distinctive Tree, if the tree is dying of natural causes.
  • If a permit is issued to remove a very large tree, or multiple trees, the property owner may be required to plant new trees elsewhere (either on-site or off-site, depending on circumstances) or provide cash-in-lieu to a City planting fund in order for the municipality to do so on their behalf.
  • The bylaw provides for many exemptions, including for emergency removals, pruning in accordance with good aboricultural practices, orchards,  quarries, normal farm practices, indoor trees, , etc. (A full list of exemptions can be found in the bylaw itself).
  • A 50 cm threshold for Distinctive Trees is expected to protect less than 6% of London's trees (half of which are estimated to occur within natural areas that would fall under the "Environmental Protection Class" anyways).
  • The bylaw also includes special processes for golf courses or cemeteries, which can submit five-year tree management plans (rather than permits every time they plan to cut a tree)

Staff are planning an extensive communication plan for the bylaw if approved to ensure Londoners understand the new protections for trees.


If you would like to review the proposed bylaw in detail, it can be found online here: (The report and by-law is "Staff Report – Tree Protection By-lawPart 1" of the PDFs listed in the window).


Contact Your City Councillor


It always helps to let your Councillor know that you support greater protections for trees. Beyond this important bylaw, Council makes many decisions that ultimately affect how many trees can be planted or protected in London.


When Councillors hear from the public on these issues, it can:


  • Help them more strongly understand what’s important to their constituents and can affect how they vote on related issues as well.
  • Reaching out to your Councillor to express how important good tree protection and planting is to you is never a bad idea.