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KNOXVILLE'S TREE ORDINANCE
City's Tree Board
Urban Forestry - Trees in Knoxville
Knox County has been experiencing loss of tree canopy, as indicated by an analysis conducted for 40 communities by American Forests. This study, called the Urban Ecosystem Analysis, indicated a decline in tree canopy throughout the county from 1989 to 1999.

Pruning Trees
It is illegal to cut, prune, trim, or remove any public trees within the City of Knoxville. Please contact the City of Knoxville Urban Forester for more information.
To combat this problem, Knoxville developed a tree ordinance in 1992, which is a tool to empower planning officials and urban forestry personnel to inspect and regulate the maintenance, planting, and necessary destruction of city trees.  Knoxville's tree ordinance established the Tree Board and the positions of City Arborist and City Horticulturist to help enforce this ordinance.

The Knoxville tree ordinance:

  • Does not apply to residential property.
  • Requires prior approval from the City Horticulturist to clear more than 25 percent of the trees on a single parcel of land within a five-year period.
  • Requires that six trees per acre be saved on land being developed unless cut and fill work prevents this.
  • Prohibits cutting any tree with a diameter of 20 inches or more within 150 feet of a building constructed before 1860, without first obtaining a permit.
  • Requires eight trees per acre to be planted on newly developed sites, using trees that are capable of reaching a height of 50 feet and have a diameter of two inches when first planted.
  • View Knoxville Tree Ordinance [PDF]

     

     

     

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