Tree Preservation Standards

Portland gets serious about its trees


Stumptown is a nickname given to the city of Portland because, upon first development of the city, virtually all the trees were cut down leaving stumps everywhere. In order to move away from that moniker, the City of Portland has enacted new rules around trees. As of January 2nd, 2015, there are some elaborate (some may say strict) rules around the preservation of our urban tree canopy. Ultimately, Portland is now set to be one of the biggest proponents of urban trees in the nation, providing its residents with fresh air, wildlife habitat, and even abundant fruit!

Though the tree code covers many topics of trees such as pruning, removal, planting, and so on, this article will focus on its impact on development (construction). When disrupting the ground for development (foundations, trenches, etc.), the city has rules around protecting private trees 12” in diameter or larger and City trees 6” or greater. Generally, 1/3rd of these trees need to be preserved. This is done by erecting temporary fencing around the 1/3rd of trees to be protected. The fencing protects the root protection zone. This root protection zone is a radius of 1 foot to each inch of tree diameter. As you see construction projects around town, look out for fencing around trees! It’s a fun game, like slug-bug.

If the development plan does not allow for the preservation of trees, there are then fees that go into the Tree Planting and Preservation Fund. This fund is used to plant trees to replace the ones lost to development.

When SQFT Studios goes to a site, we are extremely cautious of how our buildings interact with the natural surroundings. This includes the orientation, proximity to trees, and well as light pollution. Our goal is to preserve every tree on the site. I myself am a purist tree lover having spent many years building treehouses. Each tree provides a natural habitat for birds and bugs, provides valuable shade in those hot summer months, and gives you fresh air to breath, no matter the size.

Concerned about trees on your property and how they may be affected by the Tree Preservation Standards? Check out the guidelines from the City of Portland here.

Want to build a small building while protecting the trees on your property? Contact us and we’ll walk you through how we can help.