Understanding Regulations and Permits for Tree Removal in St. Louis

As a St. Louis arborist, I am often asked about the regulations and permits required for tree removal in this city. It is a common misconception that anyone can simply cut down a tree on their property without any restrictions or approvals. However, the truth is that there are several regulations and permits in place to ensure the safety and preservation of trees in St.


The Importance of Tree Removal Regulations

Trees are an essential part of our ecosystem and play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy environment. They provide us with clean air, shade, and contribute to the overall beauty of our city. Therefore, it is essential to have regulations in place to protect them from unnecessary removal. Moreover, tree removal can be a hazardous task, especially in urban areas where there are buildings, power lines, and other structures nearby. Without proper regulations, untrained individuals may attempt to remove trees, putting themselves and others at risk. Additionally, trees are often removed for development purposes, which can have a significant impact on the environment.

Regulations help ensure that trees are not removed without proper justification and that new trees are planted to compensate for the loss.

Understanding the Regulations for Tree Removal in St. Louis

In St. Louis, tree removal is regulated by the City Forester, who is responsible for enforcing the city's tree ordinances. These ordinances apply to all public and private property within the city limits. The first step in understanding the regulations for tree removal is to determine whether your property falls under the jurisdiction of the City Forester.

If you live in an unincorporated area or a neighboring municipality, you may have different regulations and permits to follow. Once you have established that your property falls under the City Forester's jurisdiction, you must obtain a tree removal permit before removing any tree. This permit is required for both residential and commercial properties and can be obtained from the City Forester's office. The City Forester will review your application and determine whether the tree can be removed or not. They will consider factors such as the tree's health, location, and impact on the surrounding environment before making a decision. If the tree is deemed hazardous or dead, the permit will be granted. However, if the tree is healthy and does not pose any immediate danger, the City Forester may require you to provide a valid reason for its removal.

In such cases, you may need to hire a certified St. Louis arborist to assess the tree and provide a report justifying its removal.

Permits for Tree Removal on Public Property

If the tree you wish to remove is located on public property, such as a park or street, you will need to obtain a public property tree removal permit. This permit is required even if the tree is on your property line but extends onto public property. The process for obtaining this permit is similar to that of a regular tree removal permit. However, in addition to the City Forester's approval, you may also need to obtain permission from other city departments, such as the Parks Department or Street Department.

Exceptions to Tree Removal Regulations

There are certain exceptions to the regulations for tree removal in St.

Louis. For example, if a tree poses an immediate danger to life or property, it can be removed without a permit. However, in such cases, the property owner must notify the City Forester within 24 hours of the tree's removal. Additionally, trees that are less than 6 inches in diameter and located within 10 feet of a building or structure can be removed without a permit. However, this exemption does not apply to trees that are part of a designated historic district.

Penalties for Violating Tree Removal Regulations

Violating the tree removal regulations in St.

Louis can result in hefty fines and penalties. The City Forester has the authority to issue citations and fines for unauthorized tree removal, with penalties ranging from $100 to $500 per tree. In addition to fines, the City Forester may also require the property owner to replace the removed tree with a new one of similar size and species. Failure to comply with these penalties can result in legal action being taken against the property owner.


As a St. Louis arborist, I cannot stress enough the importance of following the regulations and obtaining the necessary permits before removing any tree on your property.

Not only does it ensure the safety and preservation of our city's trees, but it also helps maintain a healthy environment for future generations. So, if you are considering removing a tree on your property in St. Louis, make sure to consult with the City Forester and obtain the required permits before proceeding. It may seem like an extra step, but it is crucial for the well-being of our city's trees and our community as a whole.

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