Community Tree Ordinances and Bylaws for Massachusetts Communities

This Urban Forestry web page from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation links to tree-related regulations from around the state. Deb Jacobs, chair of Northampton’s Tree Committee, pointed us to this page. The next public meeting of the committee is July 24, 6:30pm at the Department of Public Works Office on 125 Locust Street.

Northampton has been designated a Tree City, in “an awards program that provides public attention and national recognition for local commitment to community trees and forests.” However, a number of cities such as Springfield and Lexington have stronger protections for trees than we do. Here are selected links and material from the Urban Forestry page:

  • Cambridge
    Includes procedures for tree protection during large development projects, tree replacement and a tree replacement fund.
  • Lexington
    duties of the tree warden, creation of a tree committee, protection of
    private trees during major construction or residential re-development,
    and establishment of a tree fund.
  • Springfield Significant Tree Ordinance
    Protects public and private trees over 36” DBH or 75 years old.
  • Northampton
    Establishes a tree committee as Tree Warden and defines duties.
  • Granby
    Includes tree protection, tree replacement, and street tree planting during sub-division development.
  • Lawrence
    Includes landscape standards during land development projects, tree preservation and site plan review.

The Town of Lexington Tree Committee has produced a Tree Management
Manual. This manual covers a host of municipal tree management topics
and is available on-line at

The Northeast Center for Urban and Community Forestry has a sample plan and guide to developing management plan at

See our Citizen Forester article for November 2003 “Air Quality, Public Health and the Role of Urban Forests”.

Cooling Our Cities [PDF]: A fact sheet on tree planting as a way to save money and electricity. [Original link pointed to withdrawn resource – we found another source for this fact sheet]

Trees and Sustainability: Urban Air Quality:
This 12 part brochure from the University of Lancaster in the UK,
nicely summarizes the issues around urban trees and air quality with

Beginning in 2003, many Massachusetts communities will be faced with a
mandate from the USEPA to develop and implement non-point source
pollution and stormwater management plans. Fortunately, urban forestry
strategies can help satisfy many of these stormwater management
requirements in a cost effective manner. Trees, forests, and other
natural areas effectively manage water through interception,
evopo-transpiration, and infiltration. Together, these processes can
significantly reduce peak stormwater flows, stabilize base flows, and
naturally filter drinking water.