Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Charter, Code and Policies

City of Portland

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-4000

EMAIL: cityinfo@portlandoregon.gov

More Contact Info

Chapter 11.20 Urban Forestry Program


11.20.010 Purpose.

The field of urban forestry has as its objective the cultivation and management of trees and related plants for their present and potential contribution to the physiological, sociological and economic well being of urban society. Inherent in this function is a comprehensive program designed to establish policies, goals and objectives, and implementing actions, and to educate the urban populace on the role of trees and related plants in the urban environment. In its broadest sense, urban forestry is one essential component of a multi-managerial urban system that includes neighborhoods and watersheds within the City, wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation opportunities, landscape design, green infrastructure, air filtering and greenhouse gas capture, recycling of municipal vegetative wastes and tree care in general.


11.20.020 The Urban Forestry Commission.

A.  Membership. The Urban Forestry Commission consists of eleven members who have demonstrated an interest in the protection and enhancement of the urban forest, appointed by the Mayor in consultation with the Commissioner of Parks and Recreation and confirmed by the City Council. Women and multi-cultural groups shall be represented. At least three members shall have experience and expertise in arboriculture, landscape architecture or urban forestry. One member shall be on the board of a non-profit organization that has a demonstrated direct interest in the urban forest, who is not a City employee. The remaining seven members, insofar as possible, shall represent diverse geographic areas, interests, and expertise of the community.

B.  Terms. Members will serve without compensation for terms of 4 years and may be reappointed for one additional consecutive term. After serving two consecutive terms, at least 1 year shall elapse before a member may again be reappointed to the Commission. Notwithstanding the limitations of this Section, a member of the Commission will continue to serve until his or her replacement is appointed.

C.  Rules of order. The Urban Forestry Commission will elect its own chair and adopt such rules of procedure as it deems necessary to the conduct of its duties. Unless otherwise stated in the rule, all rules are effective upon adoption by the Commission and shall be filed in the office of the City Forester and in the Portland Policy Documents repository described in Chapter 1.07.

D.  Meetings. The Commission will meet at least ten times per year and may meet more often.

E.  Duties. The Commission is responsible for carrying out the following duties:

1.  Providing assistance in the development, periodic reviews, and updates to the Urban Forest Plan, and submitting said plan updates to the City Council for approval.

2.  Reviewing and providing input on plans, policies, and projects developed pursuant to other City Code provisions which contain elements or which affect matters related to urban forestry and other matters to ensure that the policies of the Urban Forest Plan are fully considered.

3.  Advising the City Forester, the Director and Commissioner-in-Charge of the Bureau of Parks and Recreation, and Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee on the preparation and contents of the annual Forestry Division budget request.

4.  Considering and making recommendations to the City Council pertaining to:

a.  Proposed amendments to this Title;

b.  Heritage Tree nominations; and

c.  Other City bureau budget proposals that may substantially affect programs relating to trees and the urban forest.

5.  Preparation of an annual report which specifically addresses the relations with and concerns of the various City bureaus and other matters brought forward by the City Forester. The report will include an evaluation of the opportunities and barriers to effective management of the urban forest, and assessment of progress of these issues identified in prior annual reports.


11.20.030 The Urban Forestry Appeals Board.

A.  Membership. The Urban Forestry Appeals Board consists of five members representing diverse interests of the Urban Forestry Commission, selected by a majority of the Commission. Members will serve without compensation for terms not to exceed their membership in the general Commission and may be reappointed.

B.  Rules of order. The Urban Forestry Appeals Board may elect its own chair and propose rules of procedure as it deems necessary to the conduct of its duties. The Commission will consider and adopt such rules upon majority vote. All rules become effective upon adoption by the Commission and shall be filed in the Portland Policy Documents repository described in Chapter 1.07.

C.  Meetings. The Appeals Board will meet as required to respond and to hear appeals within the time allotted to appeals as described in this Title. Appeal hearings are open to the public.

D.  Duties. The Appeals Board is responsible for reviewing and deciding appeals of tree permit decisions as authorized in this Title.


11.20.040 Technical Assistance.

When requested by the Urban Forestry Commission and Commissioner of Parks and Recreation, the City may retain the services of a professional review panel of not more than three members, either foresters, arboriculturists, landscape architects or some combination thereof to advise the Commission on the efficiency of proposed actions and planting schemes. At least one member of this panel should be very familiar with Portland. The City Forester will present a list of qualified professionals to the Urban Forestry Commission for its review and selection. A member of the professional review panel may not serve if the member has a conflict of interest.


11.20.050 The Urban Forest Plan.

A.  Purpose. The Urban Forest Plan (the Plan) establishes a comprehensive framework of goals, policies, and actions to guide City management activities and decisions over the short and long term. The plan will be implemented through the individual and collective works of the City Forester and other City bureaus, agencies, citizens, organizations and other groups.

B.  Roles. The City Forester, in consultation with the Urban Forestry Commission and City bureaus, is responsible for coordinating the development, update, and implementation of the Urban Forest Plan. Working groups made up of representatives of those bureaus and groups who contribute to the management of the City’s urban forest will be formed to develop citywide action plans to implement the Plan, and to monitor and report on progress of those actions.

C.  Updates. The Plan will periodically, and at least every 10 years, be reviewed and updated to respond to changes in the condition of the urban forest, changes in city policy or changes to applicable regulatory mandates.


11.20.060 Heritage Trees.

A.  Generally. Heritage Trees are trees that because of their age, size, type, historical association or horticultural value, are of special importance to the City.

B.  Nuisance trees. Trees may not be designated as Heritage Trees if, on the date they would be designated, the tree species is on the Nuisance Plant List.

C.  Private trees. Trees on private property may not be designated as Heritage Trees without the consent of the property owner; however, the consent of a property owner will bind all successors, heirs, and assigns. When a Private Tree is designated as a Heritage Tree, the owner shall record the designation on the property deed, noting on such deed that the tree is subject to the regulations of this Chapter.

D.  Designation. The Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) makes a recommendation to City Council as to whether a tree should be designated as a Heritage Tree. A recommendation to designate a tree shall be supported by at least six members of the UFC. City Council may designate a tree if it finds that the tree’s health, aerial space, and open ground area for the root system have been certified as sufficient by an arborist.

E.  Removal of designation. The Urban Forestry Commission (UFC) makes a recommendation to City Council as to whether the Heritage Tree designation should be removed from a tree. A recommendation to remove the designation shall be supported by at least six members of the UFC. City Council may remove the designation if it finds that the designation is no longer appropriate.

F.  Heritage Tree removal. Heritage Trees may be removed only with the consent of the UFC, except as provided in Subsection I., below. The UFC shall hold a public hearing on a request to remove a Heritage Tree. Consent to remove the tree shall be supported by at least six members of the UFC.

G.  List and plaques. The City Forester maintains a list of the City’s designated Heritage Trees. The City Forester may place a plaque on or near Heritage Trees.

H.  Maintenance and Protection. The City Forester maintains Heritage Trees located on streets and on property owned or managed by the City. Heritage trees on private property shall be maintained by the property owner. It is unlawful for any person without prior written authorization from the City Forester to remove, prune, or injure any Heritage Tree. The City Forester shall report to the Urban Forestry Commission any such authorization granted.

I.  Emergencies.

1.  If the City Forester determines that a Heritage Tree is dangerous and is a threat to public safety, the City Forester may order the tree to be removed without prior consent from the UFC.

2.  In an emergency, when the City Forester is unavailable, pruning only what is necessary to abate an immediate danger may be performed without authorization by the City Forester. Any additional work shall be performed under the provisions of this Section.