Ottawa Tree Protection By-Law

On January 1, 2021, Ottawa’s new Tree Protection By-Law came into effect. It consolidates and replaces the Urban Tree Conservation By-Law and the Municipal Trees and Natural Areas Protection By-Law. With this new by-law comes changes to how tree protection rules apply, tree removal permit requirements and more. If you are planning to have a tree removed, then read on to learn how this new by-law applies to you.

Areas Designated in the By-Law

The Tree Protection By-Law follows a different set of rules based on where in the Ottawa area the trees are located. The areas are divided into 3 zones:

Urban Areas

  • Ottawa
  • Nepean
  • Vanier

Suburban Areas

  • Kanata
  • Orleans
  • Barrhaven
  • Stittsville
  • Greely
  • Manotick

Rural Areas

  • The rest of the Greater Ottawa Area


When a Tree Removal Permit is Required

A tree removal permit is required to remove all “protected trees” under the new by-law. A tree is considered protected if it is:

  • A City owned tree in any designated area
  • A privately owned tree within the urban and suburban areas on properties greater than 1 hectare in size and is greater than or equal to 10 centimeters in diameter.
  • A privately owned tree on a property of any size that is subject to a Planning Act application that is greater than or equal to 10 centimeters in diameter.
  • A privately owned tree within the urban area on properties less than 1 hectare in size and is greater than or equal to 30 centimeters in diameter.
  • A privately owned tree on all multi-residential properties of any size in the urban area that is greater than or equal to 30 centimeters in diameter.
  • A privately owned tree within the suburban area on properties less than 1 hectare in size and is greater than or equal to 50 centimeters in diameter.
  • A privately owned tree on all multi-residential properties of any size in the suburban area that is greater than or equal to 50 centimeters in diameter.


Certified arborist during an inspection in Ottawa.
a chainsaw cutting through a tree branch

Changes to Permitting and Posting

The changes to permitting and posting of tree removal permits are as follows:

Permit Name:

  • Was “Distinctive Tree Permits”
  • Is Now “Tree Removal Permits”

Protection on distinctive trees in urban area that are greater than or equal to 50 centimeters in diameter has changed to:

  • Protected Trees: Greater than or equal to 30 centimeters in diameter in the urban area, greater than or equal to 50 centimeters in the suburban area, and all city owned trees.

Permit Coverage:

  • Were able to use a single permit for all permitted trees on the property.
  • Now needs a permit for each tree being removed.

City trees now require a permit which they did not before. Also, a public notice of tree removal must now be posted on each permitted tree 7 days prior to removal.

Learn More About The Tree Protection By-Law

These points are just a summary of the changes made to tree protection rules in Ottawa. If you are planning on removing any trees in the future for any reason, it is important that you become familiar with the new Tree Protection By-Law so you can be better prepared to secure a removal permit. Find the full regulations of the Tree Protection By-Law here.

a chainsaw cutting through a tree branch
Certified arborist doing tree removal service.

Arborist Report Requirements

Any tree removal permit application will need to be submitted with an arborist report. For most tree removal applications, a Tree Information Report (TIR) will be needed. If the tree is on a property greater than 1 hectare in size, or is subject to a Planning Act application, then a more detailed Tree Conservation Report (TCR) will be needed for the application.

Depending on the reasons for removing a tree, the level of detail needed in an arborist report will change. Reasons for removal fall into three separate categories:

No Development

  • This includes requests for tree removal due to the condition of the tree, or for non-primary construction on a site (house addition, decks, pools, driveways, walkways, etc.).  These reasons can use a TIR Short report.

Infill Development

  • New low-rise residential development that is not subject to a Planning Act application within the urban or suburban areas. Under the new by-law, a Tree Information Report is needed at the earliest application stages for development (Committee of Adjustment stage, demolition or building permit stage). These developments need a TIR Full report.

Planning Act

  • Trees on properties that are one hectare in size or greater within the urban and suburban areas and properties subject to a Planning Act application require a Tree Conservation Report which follows the same guidelines as the Urban Tree Conservation By-Law.

Every Tree Information Report will have the contact information of the tree owner, the arborist who prepared the report and the contractor (if known) who will be removing the tree.

A TIR Short report will also have the following information:

  • Tree Species
  • Tree Ownership
  • Tree Size (Diameter at Breast Height)
  • Detailed Tree Condition
  • Location of Tree
  • Reason for Removal
  • Arborist Recommendation
  • Additional Reports as Requested to Support Removal Justification
  • Tree Photo

A TIR Full report includes everything in the short report and:

  • Tree Protection and Mitigation Measures
  • Boundary Tree Confirmation (Including Trees on Adjacent Properties with Critical Root Zones Extending into the Construction Area)
  • Grading and/or Site Plans Showing:
    • Trees to be Removed
    • Retained Trees with Critical Root Zones
    • Relevant Measurements
    • Replacement Tree Locations
a certified arborist cutting down a tree

So You Need A Tree Removed


The tree is larger than 50cm in diameter YES
The property is larger than one hectare YES
The tree is in your yard but on city right of way (up to the water
shut-off, typically 1m or even more from the curb)
The tree is in a courtyard, solarium or rooftop garden NO
The tree is a threat to safety & health if not removed NO
The tree is on an orchard, farm, golf course or nursery NO


The implementation of Ottawa tree removal permits was designed to conserve a healthy amount of greenery in the city. Trees produce oxygen, after all, and trees have an aesthetic quality for everyone in the surrounding area – especially as more construction and development occurs in Ottawa. Even though the tree may be on your property, your neighbours benefit from having a multitude of trees throughout the community.


If you plan on removing a tree with a diameter of 50cm+ (can you wrap your arms around it?), you’ll need to apply for a Distinctive Tree Permit from the City of Ottawa. If the tree trunk straddles your property and your neighbour’s, you’ll need their approval as well. The best way to ensure full compliance with City of Ottawa tree permit bylaws is to hire the services of a professional arborist in Ottawa. Talk to Croft Tree Experts in Ottawa today about how we can help with your tree removal.

Our Arborist Services

We employ certified arborists who have passed comprehensive and regularly repeating exams developed by some of the nation’s leading experts on tree care. An arborist is an individual who is trained in caring for, planting, and maintaining trees.

When you hire Croft Tree Experts to remove a tree in Ottawa, you're getting the services of a certified arborist on staff. That's how we ensure that we're removing your tree safely as well as within compliance of Ottawa tree permit bylaws.

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Contact Us

Get in touch with Croft Tree Services today! We’ll answer any questions you may have, and work with you to find the right solution and the most convenient scheduling options for your tree and landscaping needs. Please be as specific as possible in the field below, so that we can help you in the most effective way.


    208 Royalton Private
    Ottawa, ON K1V 9S3

    (613) 883 5611 or  (613) 410 4677


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    Saturday: 9am to 3pm
    Sunday: Closed