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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 44, Issue 4 — July 2018

Resident Knowledge and Support for Private Tree By-Laws in the Greater Toronto Area

Tenley M. Conway and Adrian Lue

Abstract: Urban municipalities across North America are developing policies to protect and manage not only public trees but also the numerous trees located on private property. One approach is the creation of private tree by-laws or ordinances that regulate tree removal on all private property through a permitting process. These regulations can successfully protect the private urban forest, particularly larger trees, but their success is dependent on landowners’ willingness to comply given the difficulties of enforcement. This study examines residents’ awareness and support for private tree by-laws in three cities in the Greater Toronto Area (Ontario, Canada) through a written survey that targeted neighborhoods with high tree canopy—places most likely to have trees regulated under the private tree by-laws. Basic awareness about by-laws varied across the five study neighborhoods, and support for specific components of the by-law, including size and number of trees regulated, tree replacement requirements, and permit fees was also mixed. While a larger number of survey respondents felt that their city should not regulate trees on private land than had supported the current by-law, this was still not a majority of responses. Participants with more trees on their property or who had planted trees were significantly more supportive of the regulations, while several socio-demographic characteristics were also significantly related to level of support for the by-laws. The management implications of these results are discussed.


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