Text of Springfield’s Ordinance to Protect “Significant Trees”

Springfield has an ordinance that protects trees that are 75+ years old or 3+ feet in diameter. Such trees may be cut down only if they are diseased or damaged, or if the person who wants to cut it down can prove hardship in excess of the public’s interest in preserving the tree.

Chapter 8.20.070 Significant Trees

A: Except as provided by Chapter 87 of General Laws, it is unlawful for any person other than the city forester, or his designees, to cut, trim or remove, in whole or in part, any significant tree, even if such person is the owner of the fee in the land on which such tree is situated, except upon a permit in writing from the city forester, and only to the extent of the terms and condition of such permit.

B: The city forester shall grant such permit only upon a showing by preponderance of the evidence that the continued present state of such tree endangers person, or, in his discretion, if such tree is diseased or damaged.

C: For purposes of this section, a “significant tree” is any tree which is seventy-five (75) years or older, or which is three (3) feet in diameter or more.

D: Each person is held responsible for ascertaining the age and diameter of any tree prior to such person cutting, trimming, or remove same, in whole or in part.

E: A person who is aggrieved by the provisions of this section and for cause shown may apply directly to the Board of Park Commissioners for a permit to cut, trim, or remove in whole or in part, any significant tree, which is otherwise protected under this section so long as such commission in the exercise of its discretion is satisfied that such applicant would sustain a hardship, financial or otherwise, which outweighs any detriment to public interest that would result in the application of this section. For purposes of this section, “hardship” is the loss of an advantage. It may include, but not be limited to, a monetary advantage or the advantage to put property to particular use. (Prior code § 13-25).

See also:

Community Tree Ordinances and Bylaws for Massachusetts Communities

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 [Original link pointed to withdrawn resource – we found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.