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The Arborist Division is responsible for reviewing and approving all building permits and tree removal plans.

Arborist Division Overview

What Does the Arborist Division Do?
The Arborist Division is charged with protecting the City’s tree canopy on private property throughout the City of Atlanta. Protecting and permitting the removal of trees can be done either under a building permit or through an application to remove a dead, dying, diseased, or hazardous tree.

The division conducts building plan reviews related to trees, verifies trees to be removed and posts properties prior to tree removal under building permits (this allows the public to appeal our decisions). The Arborist Division also inspects dead, dying, diseased and hazardous trees, investigates illegal tree destruction or removal, presents tree related cases to the Tree Conservation Commission, and inspects properties before Final Certificate of Occupancy (CO) certificates are issued.

How the Arborist Division Meets Its Objectives?
The Tree Ordinance provides for the preservation, establishment, and maintenance of the tree canopy on public and private land in the City of Atlanta by prohibiting the destruction and removal of trees except as allowed in the articles of the ordinance.

Tree ordinance enforcement is intended to protect and preserve trees. The ordinance allows for enforcement through an array of tools such as: Correction Notices (verbal or written, to correct practices that are detrimental to a tree’s health and or its structural integrity); Silvicultural Prescriptions (required remedial actions such as fertilizing, pruning, soil amendments and treatments, pest management, etc.); Stop Work Orders (to prevent /minimize further tree impact and for corrective actions to be taken to save the tree); Tree Save Fences (to keep construction and other activities out of the tree’s Root Save Area); issuance of Illegal Tree Removal/Destruction Recompense citations; and Five-year survivability reports, among others. Any one or a combination of the above tools can be implemented by a field arborist to save or preserve trees.

What Actions Are Taken by the Arborist Division?
The steps for an illegal tree destruction action vary depending on the level and stage of destruction of the tree. The steps/tools for resolution in order of severity are: verbal correction notice; written correction notice; illegal tree removal citation. Enforcement is handled on a case-by-case basis, as some instances may warrant immediate issuance of a citation or both correction notices and citations.

The issuance of illegal destruction or illegal removal citations do not correlate directly or indirectly with saving and preserving trees. Citations are used as a last resort or in situations where trees are damaged beyond repair. The issuance of citations allows for the collection of recompense and penalty fees. These monies are used to replant trees on both public and private property.

How can I appeal a Decision Made by a City Official Regarding the Removal of Trees?
Valid appeals must provide evidence, based on the City of Atlanta's Tree Ordinance, that a city administrative official misinterpreted or misapplied the ordinance or facts material to an issued decision. For information on how to file a tree appeal, see the Tree Conservation Commission's website at or call 404-330-6235.

Who is the Arborist in my neighborhood?

NW:      Michael Franklin - (404) 330-6079   -

NE:       Peter Stovall      -  (404) 330-6077  -

SE/SE: Gregory Ihle       -  (404) 330-6882  -

Arborist Zones


  • Click here for the “Assessing Urban Tree Canopy in the City of Atlanta” report.
  • Click here for the Executive Summary of the report.

    The Baseline Tree Canopy Study marks the first comprehensive detailed analysis of tree canopy within Atlanta’s city limits. For years, references have been made to rates of tree loss in the area but there have been no studies focused specifically on the City of Atlanta using high resolution aerial photography (approximate 7-root resolution imagery analyzed by spectral signature). The report linked above summarizes findings of the Tree Canopy analyses and provides information about the distribution and concentration of tree canopy throughout the city.


The Office of Parks in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs is responsible for trees located in city parks, public space and right-of-ways (street trees).


10.21.11 Calculate your Tree Recompense here:

9.23.2010 Tree Removal Permit Posting
Permits to remove, destroy, or injure trees shall be posted for public inspection
on site [Sec. 158-101(c)].

9.21.2010 City's Arboricultural Programs Accredited!
Society of Municipal Arborist Accreditation letter
City of Atlanta Press Release

Free download of Tree Ordinance 05.20.2009: Tree Ordinance




If the Arborist Division requests a Private Arborist Silvicultural Prescription or tree/site evaluation, click here for the International Society of Arboricultural (ISA) certified arborists in Georgia.

For more information, contact the Arborist Division Information to the right on this screen.

Arborist Division
55 Trinity Avenue
3rd Floor - Suite 3800
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Phone: (404) 330-6874 
Jorge L. Rivera 
Arboricultural Manager

Click here for a list of Contacts for the Office of Buildings

Click here for a complete list of the Arborist Divisions' Forms and Checklists.

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Last updated: 3/26/2015 3:47:54 PM