What is a Heritage Tree in the City of Austin?
A tree qualifies as a Heritage Tree in the City of Austin, if the tree trunk measured from 4.5 feet from existing ground is larger than 2 feet in diameter and is one of the following species: Texas Ash, Bald Cypress, American Elm, Cedar Elm, Texas Madrone, Bigtooth Maple, Pecan, Arizona Walnut, and Eastern Black Walnut, and all Oak Trees.
When trees have multiple stems, if the diameter of the largest stem plus half of all other stems is two feet or larger, it is considered a Heritage Tree as well.
What is the process to remove a heritage tree?
Heritage Trees larger than 24-inches, but smaller than 30-inches require an administrative variance from the director of the Planning and Development Review Department prior to removal. Reasons for removal may include: if the tree is in very poor health or poses a safety hazard. Trees larger than 30-inches require a land use commission public hearing before a variance can be granted.
Why is tree protection important?
As defined in Ordinance No. 20100204-038, the urban forest has social, ecological, economic, historical, and aesthetic benefits for the citizens of Austin. For example, Austin’s trees have been estimated to store up to 100,000 tons of CO2 per year (Werts). To ensure the protection of the urban forest, a Heritage Tree ordinance was adopted.