Private Tree Protection

Help us preserve trees and protect our urban forest.

Property owners must apply for a permit and on-site consultation before removing any tree that has a trunk measuring 15 cm or larger in diameter at breast height (5.9 inches in width).

Protecting our urban forest

The urban forest is made up of all the trees growing in Oakville, including town-owned street and park trees, trees in forested areas, as well as trees on private property.

We’ve strengthened our Private Tree Protection By-law and developed a Private Tree Protection Procedure to help us preserve healthy trees and protect our community’s urban forest. If you’re making home or garden renovations, consider ways to make your trees part of your plan.

Ownership of a tree is determined by its location on either private property or a municipal right of way (such as a boulevard or road allowance), regardless of who planted the tree. With that ownership comes the responsibility to care for and maintain the health of the tree.

Need to remove a tree on your property?

You might need a permit. Fill out our online Private Tree Removal Permit Application. Once your form has been successfully submitted you will receive immediate email confirmation. A tree inspector will then contact you to arrange for a site visit.

Private Tree Removal Permits

Private Tree Removal Permits are required when you wish to remove:

  • Any tree that measures 15 cm or more in diameter at breast height (DBH).
  • Dead and high-risk trees, ash trees, and buckthorn require a permit but are exempt from fees.
  • Any tree that is 15 cm or more in diameter being removed as part of a development application.
  • Any hedge with stems that measure 15 cm or more in diameter.

Permits are not required for the removal of:

  • Any tree that measures less than 15 cm in diameter at breast height (DBH).
  • Emergency tree removal (where there is an immediate risk for the tree to cause serious injury or damage to people or property). You don’t need a permit for an emergency tree removal, but you must notify the town as soon as possible. Contact: Ian Wagner, Supervisor, Forest Protection by calling 905-845-6601, ext. 2846 or emailing
  1. Complete our short online application form. Once your form has been successfully submitted you will receive immediate email confirmation.
  2. A tree inspector from our Forestry Section will contact you within five business days to arrange an on-site consultation to review your tree removal request.

Depending on reason for removal, please have the following documents ready for the site visit:

  • Arborist report (from certified arborist)
    • If removing a high risk tree
    • If tree removal is the result of a development application (such as for pools, landscaping or other property construction projects)
  • Signed letter of authorization from property owner. Review the Sample Declaration of Property Owner pdf.
    • If applying on behalf of the property owner
  • Signed letter of consent from neighbouring property owner. Review the Sample Declaration of Adjacent Property Owner pdf.
    • If removing a tree on a shared property line
  1. If we approve your application, we will notify you when your permit is ready to be picked up. Once notified, take your fees and security deposit to ServiceOakville, Town Hall, 1225 Trafalgar Road to receive your permit.
  2. For dead or high risk trees, ash trees, or buckthorn where no fees are required, the tree inspector will leave the permit with you at the site visit.
  3. Post your permit on the site where the trees are being removed for five days prior to and including day of removal.

NOTE: It is the property owner's responsibility to hire a professional licensed arborist to remove a tree. Town employees do not remove trees from private property. Visit the Licensed Contractors page to find a licensed arborist.

Permit fees include consultation and administration and are non-refundable.

  • $61 - Non-refundable fee for the first tree removed (15 to 24 cm DBH) in a 12-month period.
  • $396 - Non-refundable fee for each additional tree, and trees that are larger than 24 cm DBH.
  • $840 - If tree removal is a result of a development application: a non-refundable fee is charged for a second tree (15 to 24 cm DBH) in a 12-month period and any trees that are larger than 24 cm DBH
  • No fee - Dead and high-risk trees, ash trees, and buckthorn require a permit but are exempt from fees.
  • Security deposit - Tree replacement and security deposit may be a condition of removal. The security deposit will be refunded once a final inspection of the replacement plantings is complete.

Visit the Rates and Fees page for more information.

  • As a condition of the permit, one tree must be planted for every 10 cm DBH of healthy tree removed.
  • A $300 security deposit is required for each tree to be planted. The security deposit will be refunded once a final inspection of the replacement plantings is complete.
  • The town now requires that trees are replanted on the same private property where trees are removed and cash in-lieu will not be accepted for those applications where there is room to replant on the site. 
  • Cash in-lieu will only be accepted where there is not sufficient space to replant on the subject property, with funds used to plant replacement trees on municipal property.
  • The minimum tree replacement size is a 30-mm caliper (3 cm width) deciduous tree, or a 150-cm high coniferous tree in a five-gallon container, balled in burlap, or in a wire basket.
  • Cedar is considered an acceptable replacement planting only when a cedar tree has approved for removal. The town no longer accepts Cedar trees as suitable replacement trees when permits are issued to remove any other coniferous or deciduous tree.

List of Eligible Species for Tree Replacement

Diameter at breast height (DBH) is a standard measurement for the size of a tree.

How do I measure DBH?

  1. Use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your tree (like measuring your waist) at 137 cm (4.5 feet) above the ground level (this is an average person’s breast height).
  2. Use a calculator to divide the number by 3.14. This will give you the diameter (width of the tree trunk).

Note: If your tree measures 47 cm or less around its trunk (its circumference) at 137 cm above ground level, then the tree is considered to be less than 15 cm DBH (5.9 inches in width) and you do not need a permit to remove it.

Your trees matter

About half of Oakville’s urban forest is on private property. Trees benefit everyone. They:

  • clean the air we breathe
  • cool our homes
  • add beauty to our neighbourhoods
  • increase property values
  • reduce soil erosion
  • provide food and habitat for wildlife

If tree removal is necessary, consider replacing your tree with a native species. To learn more about species native to Oakville visit the Ontario Tree Atlas website. For more planting and tree maintenance tips visit the tree planting page.