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Working On or Near Trees

Any person, contractor, or entity planning 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
  • Pruning
  • 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.

Consulting Arborists

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.

Get information for Prospective Consulting Arborists

Construction Permits

Work taking place on property owned or maintained by NYC Parks frequently also requires a Parks construction permit. Please visit our Construction Permit page for more information about how to apply. We will not issue a construction permit until you have first received a tree work permit.

Building Plan Review

For all New Building and Alteration 1 & 2 permit applications pre-filed with the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) on or after May 3, 2010, a Building Plan Review is required. During the process, Parks will evaluate the location of street trees, the size of tree pits on-site, as well as any planned tree removals or required tree plantings. Please visit the Building Plan Review page for more information.

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

Download the Tree Preservation Best Practices and Protocol for Permits and Plan Review

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.

Download the Forestry Protocol for Planned and Emergency Utility Work

Tree Valuation

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

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