Qualifying for a Tree Removal and Replanting Permit

When will a Tree Removal and Replanting Permit be granted?

Street Trees

Generally, a Tree Removal and Replanting Permit will be granted for street trees when the tree is dead, dying, or dangerous and the applicant agrees to replace the tree with an appropriate tree. Knowing how to measure your tree will be important in this process. In the tables below, the measurements are taken in diameter at breast height, or DBH for short.

Private Trees

A Tree Removal and Replanting Permit will be granted for regulated trees on private property when the tree meets at least one of the following conditions and the applicant agrees to replant as required:

  • The tree is dead, dying, or dangerous.
  • The tree is within 10 feet of a building or attached structure. Example: decks or carports.
  • The tree is a nuisance species identified in the Portland Plant List.
  • Up to 4 healthy trees smaller than 20 inches in diameter will be permitted to be removed per site per calendar year if they are not Heritage Trees or trees required as the condition of a permit.

Replanting Requirements

In order to be eligible for a removal permit, the applicant must agree to replace the trees as follows:

Street Tree Replanting Requirements

Private Tree Replanting Requirements

“Tree for tree” means if one tree is removed, one tree must be planted. The replacement tree must meet the minimum caliper size defined below.

“Up to inch for inch” means that the number of caliper-inches required for planting may be up to the number of diameter-inches removed, at a maximum. The number of caliper-inches required for replanting may be reduced from the maximum based on the condition of the tree removed.

If there is no room to replant the required replacement tree, a fee must be paid into the Urban Forestry Tree Planting and Preservation Fund based on the fee schedule. The maximum fee may be reduced based on the condition of the tree.

Minimum Requirements for a Private Replacement Tree

Replacement trees must:

  • Grow on average to at least 16 feet or more
  • Be reliably hardy in the Portland area
  • 1.5 inch caliper, single stem
  • Not be an invasive species (nuisance tree) on the Portland Plant List
  • Not be prone to fatal pests or diseases, such as Dutch elm disease
  • Technically be a “tree” not a shrub/other, thus cannot substitute for a tree

*Common species that are not “Trees” but are asked about: arborvitae, vine maple, dwarf varieties of Japanese maples

For more information, visit our Private Property Tree Replacement Lists page.

Where to Replant?

Street trees removed should generally be replaced with new street trees. When a private property tree is approved for removal, the replacement tree may be planted in the right-of-way (encouraged), in the front yard, in a side yard, or in the back yard. Replacement trees should not be planted within 10 feet of a building. If there is no room to replant onsite, the property owner may plant on another property they own within the City of Portland or in a neighbor’s right-of-way. The neighbor must sign an agreement to plant and care for the tree. If none of these options are available, a fee-in-lieu-of-planting may be required. See the fee schedule for more details.

Removal/Replant Standards

Removal/Replant permits are valid for 365 days. The tree must be removed and for street trees the stump ground below grade, and the debris cleared while the permit is valid.

Call the Oregon Utility Locate Hotline (811 or 503-246-6699 (local) or 1-800-332-2344 (toll free)) to check the location of underground utilities before grinding the stump.

Due to the difficult and potentially dangerous nature of removing large trees in urban environments, it is recommended to hire a practicing certified arborist to conduct the tree removal and stump grinding.

Replanting Standards

The City of Portland Street Tree Planting Standards must be followed when planting a tree in the City right-of-way.

Elm Wood Disposal

The State of Oregon has a quarantine restricting activities regarding elm trees in order to reduce the spread of Dutch elm disease. All elm wood must be disposed of properly by chipping or de-barking and burying. No elm wood may be stored for any purpose.

Tree Species for Planting

Street tree species for planting must be selected from the Approved Street Tree Planting List that corresponds to planting site conditions.

Trees on the nuisance list may not be planted as street trees or on private property.

Tree Size Requirements

Newly planted trees must be a minimum caliper size as defined below. This is to encourage planting large caliper trees, which have more desirable established structure and are less prone to vandalism. Tree caliper is measured at 6” above the tree’s natural ground line for trees <4”, or at 12” for trees >4”.

Broadleaf tree size requirements:

Conifer tree size requirements:

Conifer trees must be a minimum of 5 feet in height at the time of planting.

Planting Season

The planting season in Portland extends from October 1 through April 30. Planting during this timeframe is recommended. Planting during the summer months (May 1-September 30) is not recommended. Trees planted during the summer months should receive extra watering as needed to ensure tree survival and establishment.

If a permit is issued outside of the planting season, planting may be deferred until the next planting season to promote survivability. Talk to your Tree Inspector about deferring planting until the planting season.

Environmentally or Historic Areas

If the property is in a regulated overlay zone or plan district, there may be additional requirements or restrictions on street tree removal to help protect the environmentally sensitive or historic area. Staff will inform the applicant when additional regulations apply to the property and will describe the permit requirements. To learn about these requirements on your own, view table 40-1 of Title 11 Trees.

Removal and Replanting Frequently Asked Questions

Information on when you are required to obtain a permit for removing a tree and when you need to replace it.

Apply for a Permit

Go to the Apply for a Permit page.

Read the Tree Code, Title 11