Atlanta Ga Tree Ordinance, Removal Permit, City Arborist

*Our Atlanta tree service professionals can guide you through the permitting process.

A permit is not required for the removal of a tree or trees that have fallen or are being supported by another tree or structure.

A permit is required when a tree “diameter at breast height (DBH) of six inches or more” needs to be taken down from private property in the City of Atlanta. However, the ordinance states you are allowed to remove trees less than six inches diameter at breast height from private property.

Below are the ordinance requirements, processes, applications, and contact information needed to expedite the acquisition of a tree removal permit in Atlanta Ga.

City of Atlanta Tree Removal Permit Application Process

These steps will assist you in the lawful removal of dead, dying, diseased or hazardous trees from private property.

1. Submit an Application:

Fill out and submit an application for the tree removal permit. Applications can be mailed, faxed, emailed or delivered in person to the City of Atlanta Arborist Division.

2. Inspection:

Generally, within 5 business days, an assigned arborist will visit and complete a field inspection. A list of the City’s inspectors (by region) can be found below.

3. Application Approval:

When the application is approved, the field inspection report will be returned and must be on site while the tree removal process takes place.

How to Appeal Your Permit Denial

When a Tree Removal Permit is denied, an appeal may be made to the Tree Conservation Commission. Valid appeals must provide clear evidence of misinterpretation of the facts.

A public hearing will take place where you can explain your situation. Kathy Evans at (404) 330-6235 should be contacted or visit for further instructions.

City of Atlanta Arborist Division Contact Information

The City of Atlanta’s Arborist Division is comprised of an Arboricultural Manager, Regional Inspectors ,and Plan Reviewers who swiftly work to resolve any and all questions and issues. On their website is a list of forms and checklists to make your permit experience more seamless.

Below is a complete list of contacts within the city Arborist Division:

City Arborist Division
55 Trinity Avenue
3rd Floor – Suite 3800
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
(404) 330-6874

David Zaparanick, M.L.A.
Interim Arboricultural Manager
(404) 865-8489

Inspectors By Region:

Gregory Ihle
(404) 546-0184

Roy Matthews
(404) 865-8464

Jason Ernest
(404) 330-6079

Northeast (South of I-85):
Peter Stovall
(404) 330-6077

Northeast (North of I-85):
Meghan Chuites
(404) 865-8892

Tree Removal Ordinance of Atlanta Georgia

Atlanta’s Tree Ordinance strongly emphasizes that there will be “no net loss of trees in the city”. Legal authority is granted to the tree conservation commission in the  assessment of penalties and protection of the City’s trees. The following are excerpts from the City of Atlanta Tree Ordinance.

The City of Atlanta Tree Ordinance – Sec. 158-101 states:

“No person shall directly or indirectly remove or destroy [or injure] any tree located on public property… or any tree having a diameter at breast height (DBH) of six inches or more which is located on private property… without obtaining a permit as provided in this section.”

Sec. 158-34 – Part (a) “Penalties” of the City of Atlanta Tree Ordinance sets forth penalties for violations of any of the provisions of the article. The tree conservation commission has the authority to determine when a person has violated the provisions of the ordinance and possess the authority to impose and enforce the following penalties or fines:

Where the number of trees upon which violations occurred is attainable, the fine for the first violation will be no less than $500.00. The fine for each subsequent violation will be $1,000.00. Each violation will be considered a separate violation of the Tree Protection Ordinance.

The ordinances that regulate the protection, preservation, relocation, and removal of trees in Atlanta, are located in its entirety here – The City of Atlanta Tree Ordinance.

Tree Ordinance Terminology and Additional Permit Info

Permit Statutes for Deciduous Trees

As of August 2014, the tree removal permit process Atlanta states that a permit must be sought for deciduous trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) of 6 inches or greater, and for coniferous trees with a DBH of 12 inches or greater. Deciduous trees are any trees that don’t stay green all year and don’t look like pine trees, while coniferous trees are the ones that (usually) look like Christmas trees.

What is Diameter at Breast Height?

Diameter at breast height may be found using a flexible tape measure for the circumference about 4 and a half feet from the ground (or at about breast height for the average-sized man), then dividing this number by 3.14. Conversely, a tape measure may be used to measure the width of the tree at breast height to get an approximation.

How Landscaping and Construction-Related Tree Permitting Works

Permits for construction-related removal or for landscaping require more extensive review by the Arborist Division, and they may cost a small fee. This fee is known as a recompense fee and is designed to make sure that there remain a healthy number of trees in the city of Atlanta. The cost of removing a large tree may be mitigated by planting smaller trees.

How the Recompense Fee Works

It is somewhat complicated, but the basic formula for the cost of a tree removal permit is this: $100 times (the number of trees removed minus the number of trees replaced) plus $30 times (the DBH inches removed minus the caliper inches replaced). Caliper inches is the diameter at six inches from the ground.

This means that it is usually worth a person’s while to plant new trees when removing an old tree, especially if the old tree is very large, because otherwise the cost may end up being high.

All information contained on this page is educational and not intended as legal advice. Contact the City of Atlanta Arborist Division or Tree Commission for ordinance specifics. can assist you with the permitting process. Give us a call so we can facilitate all aspects of that nuisance tree removal.