Atlanta has big changes in store when it comes to trees

April 13, 2023
1 min read

The Gist: Starting today, Atlanta residents can expect improved tree protection measures and a greener environment as the city overhauls its Tree Protection Ordinance.

What Happened?: In December 2022, the ordinance update was passed after collaboration between stakeholders, including environmental and tree advocacy groups, development trade groups, the Atlanta Tree Conservation Commission, City Council, and the Mayor’s Office. The changes aim to strengthen the City Arborist’s enforcement tools and improve green spaces in parking lots.

By The Numbers:

  • 22 years since the last update to Atlanta’s tree code
  • 8,000 trees will be planted in Downtown Atlanta over five years, doubling the tree canopy

Why It Matters: Mayor Andre Dickens stresses the importance of protecting and expanding Atlanta’s greenery as climate change increasingly impacts urban environments. The ordinance updates, alongside other initiatives, will help reduce energy costs, improve air quality, manage stormwater, and enhance the overall quality of life for residents.

What is a Tree Canopy?: A tree canopy refers to the layer of leaves, branches, and stems of trees that cover the ground when viewed from above. It acts as a protective umbrella for urban ecosystems, providing shade, reducing temperatures, and improving air quality. Tree canopies play a crucial role in promoting biodiversity, supporting wildlife habitats, and contributing to the overall health and aesthetics of urban environments. In addition, they help to manage stormwater runoff, reduce soil erosion, and absorb carbon dioxide, making them an essential component of sustainable cities and natural defenses against climate change.

What’s Next?: Today’s launch sets the stage for further updates to the Tree Protection Ordinance, planned for early summer. These changes will focus on tree preservation, recompense, and an income-sensitive tree replacement program, with a draft expected by Fall or Winter 2023.

For more information, visit the City Planning department’s Tree Protection Ordinance webpage at

About Atlanta: As the capital and largest city of Georgia, Atlanta is home to a diverse population of about 515,000 residents. The city’s educational landscape is strong, with 88% of its inhabitants having completed high school and 49% holding college degrees. With a median household income of $60,000, Atlanta showcases a thriving economy driven by its dynamic community and extensive opportunities.

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