Working On or Near Trees
Any person, contractor, or entity that needs to perform work on or within 50 feet of a street tree is required to obtain a permit from Parks prior to the start of construction, and perform all work in compliance with Parks’ Tree Protection Protocol. Parks’ jurisdiction often extends across a front yard or lawn all the way to the building line, so please contact your Borough Forestry office if it is unclear whether a tree is on public or private property.
Examples of work requiring a Tree Work Permit include, but are not limited to:
- Installing a sidewalk, driveway or utility line
- Extending the current tree planting space
- Building construction within 50 feet of a City tree
- Hanging holiday lights
- Excavation or trenching near a City tree.
The Permit Process
Through the Tree Work Permit process, our Parks Forestry staff will work with you to review all proposed site work and, in line with our Tree Protection Protocol, design a plan for all affected City trees. Along with a Tree Work Permit, we may also require you to hire a Certified Arborist (CA) to be onsite for all work and serve as a liaison to Parks concerning site work.
The Tree Work Permit process begins when you file a P-A Forestry Application with the appropriate Borough Forestry Office. All work will be completed at the owner/applicant’s expense.
Damage to Trees
Any damage done to a City tree will lead to substantial fines and may prevent you from receiving permits from Parks in the future. Careful planning and protective measures can prevent injury and destruction of City-owned trees and help avoid costly project delays, fines or litigation.
It is illegal and punishable by law for citizens to damage, remove, or otherwise harm a street tree or park tree. Learn more on our Illegal Tree Work and Damage page.
After review of the proposed tree work, Parks may require a Certified Arborist (CA) to be onsite during the project and serve as a liaison to Parks. The CA's primary role will be to ensure that all work is done to industry standards and our protocol. The CA will be a person independent of, and not associated with, those persons performing the tree pruning, tree removal, and tree planting or transplanting operations, or any construction operations. Prospective Consulting Arborists will be approved by Parks based on their qualifications and their ability to provide the necessary staff and services for a given project.
Consulting Arborist Approval
All persons desiring approval as Consulting Arborists must possess certification from the International Society of Arboriculture (I.S.A.) with the minimum credential of “Certified Arborist” or must be a “Registered Consulting Arborist” by the American Society of Consulting Arborists (A.S.C.A). The CA monitoring the work under the Forestry Permit, whether they are the individual named on the permit or an employee of that individual, must possess these minimum qualifications.
NYC Parks will review the CA’s professional credentials prior to the approval and issuance of the Tree Work Permit.
More Resources for Contractors
Best Management Practices
Our Tree Preservation Best Practices and Protocol outlines the best practices for protecting trees impacted by construction projects in the urban environment. These best practices apply to all trees under the jurisdiction of Parks & Recreation that are impacted by any construction work.
Download the Tree Preservation Best Practices and Protocol
Protocol for Planned and Emergency Utility Work
Utility companies intending to do work in the proximity of a street tree are required to apply for a permit and ensure that any construction that occurs adjacent to or under the dripline of a City tree is performed according to Parks’ Utility Permit Protocols. This applies to public and private utility companies, including electric, gas, water, cable, communications, etc.
Parks’ Tree Valuation methodology reflects the unique importance of urban tree canopy to New York City. This valuation methodology is often used in the event of tree removal proposals or damage remediation incidents.
Download NYC Tree Valuation