Atlanta's Tree Protection Ordinance:
The Basics

When is a Permit Required? A permit is required to remove, destroy, or injure any tree on city-owned property, regardless of size, or any tree of 6 inches or greater diameter-at-breast-height (dbh) on private property. There are no exceptions, either by species or present condition. Even dead trees require a permit for removal. [Sec. 158-29; Sec. 158-101(a)]  

How do I remove a dead, dying, diseased, or hazardous tree (DDH)? You need a permit from the City of Atlanta. DDH applications are approved or denied based on a tree inspection by a City Forester or Arborist. Denied DDH applications may be appealed. Approved permits may not be appealed. Anyone removing a dead, dying, or hazardous tree must have a permit to do so in their possession. You may apply online by registering for an account here. 

How can trees be removed for construction projects? When the City receives applications for building, construction, renovation or demolition, the plans are submitted to the Office of Buildings. Copies are provided for review to the Arborist in the Office of Buildings (private property trees) and, if necessary, to the Forestry Division of the Office of Parks (public trees). [Sec. 158.101(d)]

What are Tree Appeals? Appeals may be filed by individuals who disagree with tree-related decisions by a City Arborist or administrative official. A valid appeal describes how the appellant believes the city official erred in their interpretation of the tree ordinance or the facts of the case. When trees are to be removed in association with a building or landscape project, public notice is provided by the posting of a sign at the property. An orange sign is used to notify the public that trees may be affected by construction. A yellow sign is posted to notify the public that a construction plan resulting in the removal of trees has received preliminary approval by the City Arborist.

What do orange and yellow signs mean?

Orange-sign-lg "Notice of Plan Submittal" posting: If initial cursory evaluation indicates that completion of building plans may result in the removal or injury to trees on the property or adjacent properties a "Notice of Plan Submittal" posting is made by placing an orange sign on the property announcing the potential for tree removal. This sign must remain in place for a minimum of 10 calendar days. The plans are available for public review in the Arborist Division.
Yellow-sign-lg "Preliminary Approval" posting: If plan review determines that trees must be removed or destroyed to complete the intended construction a "Preliminary Approval" posting is made with a yellow sign on the property for a minimum of 5 working days. At this time, the trees being removed must be prominently marked with orange paint. Valid appeals must present information to demonstrate that a city official erred in their interpretation of the tree ordinance or the facts of the case.

Who has jurisdiction?The Forestry Division of the Office of Parks has jurisdiction over city-owned trees including those in parks, public schools grounds, and the street right-of-way (404-546-6813). The Arborist Division of the Bureau of Buildings has jurisdiction over privately owned trees (404-865-8519). How is the ordinance enforced? Both Foresters and Arborists have police power to enforce the ordinance. The APD may be called (911) to halt any tree removal or destruction activities until a permit can be obtained. [Sec. 158-33]