The City of Peterborough proactively manages our community's urban forest to maintain and promote the many social, economic and environmental benefits that our community gets from its trees. We play a key role in maintaining the tree canopy through maintenance, planting, removal, and pest management programs for publicly-owned trees.

The urban forest, or green infrastructure, of a city is comprised of both private and publicly-owned trees. Over 70% of the urban forest is privately owned. As stewards, Peterborough and its citizens value the urban forest as an important part of the City‘s green infrastructure.

Benefits of urban trees

One tree 15 centimetres in diameter can absorb 22 kilograms of carbon dioxide and intercept almost 2,000 litres of rainfall per year.

The benefits of trees include:

  • Reducing flooding
  • Improving air quality
  • Increasing property values
  • Providing habitat for wildlife
  • Reducing household energy bills
  • Reducing heat build-up in the City
  • Improving mental and physical health

Community Tree Planting Request

The City of Peterborough is working to grow its tree canopy as an important part of the community response to climate change; reducing carbon and improving the environment for everyone.

Trees planted in the road allowance are usually referred to as street trees. Street tree planting provides the most benefit to the community such as shading hard surfaces, cleaning the air and moderating stormwater flows.

We are looking for your help to find suitable locations for street trees within the road allowance in front of residential properties, either between the road and sidewalk or between the sidewalk and private property line. If there is no sidewalk planting will be between the road and property line.

If your property frontage has no tree and you would like one, please submit a request for tree planting. For more information please contact Urban Forestry at 705-742-7777 ext. 1813 or ext. 1878.

We are now planning for the 2021 tree planting season. If you request a tree, your address will be added to our waiting list for potential tree planting locations.

Request a tree

Please note:

  • There is no charge to the property owner as the tree will be provided by the City and planted on City property.
  • The City will maintain the tree throughout its life, but at the start the homeowner can help by filling the provided watering bag during the growing season.
  • Trees will be approximately 8 to 10 feet tall when planted.
  • Only one tree will be provided per 30 feet of lot frontage. Additional trees may be provided on the side of a corner lot.

The City cannot guarantee that a tree will be planted or the species of tree that will be provided as there are many factors that need consideration such as:

  • Overhead and underground planting and growing space
  • Soil quality and its suitability for tree growth
  • Safety requirements
  • Potential for tree damage
  • The need to diversify tree species across the City
  • The species of tree best suited to the location

Urban Forestry staff will look at each request and determine the preferred planting location, any preparation needed and the best tree species to suit the site. When the tree is scheduled for planting an information card will be left on the door for the homeowner with the planting details and tips on how to help care for the tree.

Tree conservation by-laws

We recognize the environmental, aesthetic and public health benefits that trees and the urban forest provide to the entire community. Through the Tree Notice By-law and the Woodland Conservation By-law, we regulate the removal of healthy trees to maintain our urban forest, collect information, and plan for the future of our tree canopy.

Notification to remove a tree on private property - Tree Notice By-law

Our Tree Notice By-law focuses on information gathering and education for the preservation of the urban tree canopy.

Anyone who wants to remove a tree on private property, if the tree has a diameter of at least 7.5 centimetres at breast height, must give the City at least 72 hours written notice before removing the tree.

The notice for the removal of a tree should be sent to our Urban Forestry Division:

  • through an online form; or
  • by requesting a paper Notification Form in person at City Hall, 500 George St. N., Peterborough, ON 

The 72-hour notice is effective once it has been sent electronically - either by email or the online form or when received in person at City Hall. 

What to include in the notificationPhoto illustrating how to measure diameter at breast height

  • each owner's name, mailing address, telephone number and, if applicable, email address
  • species of tree, if known
  • diameter of the tree at breast height
  • the reason, if any, for the planned removal of the tree including, if applicable, the condition of the tree
  • each owner's plan, if any, to replace the tree

By providing information such as the diameter of the trunk and the species of the tree that’s being removed, we can track the evolution of the urban forest – and plan for planting trees to replenish the canopy.

Residents can request that one of the City’s forestry staff visit their property to help identify species of trees that they are considering removing, to discuss the reasons for removal, and to provide recommendations on opportunities to plant certain types of trees that complement our climate and the biodiversity – or mix of trees – in our urban forest.

Boundary trees

A boundary tree is a tree with a trunk growing on the boundary between adjoining properties. It is the common property of the owners of the adjoining properties.

Woodland conservation permit process

The Woodland Conservation By-law 17-121 regulates the injury and or destruction of trees with a diameter at breast height of 7.5 centimetres (three inches) or more, measured at 1.37 metres (about 54 inches) above ground at the base of the tree, within woodlands (forested areas) of 2.47 acres or one hectare in size or larger.

Woodland Conservation permit

  1. Fill out the Application to Permit the Injury or Destruction of a Tree within a Woodland or Plantation Woodland Form.
  2. If a tree is considered dead, dying or hazardous by the Director there is no fee, but you must still obtain a permit.
  3. Where a permit is applicable, a $300 fee will apply.

We may require a report from a qualified tree expert as a condition of permit approval, but not for the initial permit application.

Public and Stakeholder Engagement

A public engagement and consultation process was conducted in November and December 2019 to gain an understanding of public perspectives regarding the value of trees and to gain input on approaches to conserve the urban forest canopy. The multifaceted process included five public meetings, an online survey, interviews with stakeholders and tree care professionals. Read the Urban Forest Canopy Conservation Engagement Report Summary.


If you have any questions regarding the Tree Notice By-law or the Woodland Conservation By-law, please contact the Urban Forestry Division.

City-owned trees

City-owned trees are protected from injury or destruction by by-law 1982-82 and Chapter 765 of the Municipal Code. Contact the City to confirm ownership of the tree before commencing any work. If you're unsure of the City's ownership of the tree, please contact Public Works at 705-745-1386.

For the maintenance of City-owned trees, please contact the City's Public Works Division at 705-745-1386.

Emerald ash borer

An invasive insect pest known as the Emerald Ash Borer has been spreading through Ontario since 2002. In 2014, we started confirming the presence of the invasive species in Peterborough – and its presence has been steadily increasing. The Emerald Ash Borer kills ash trees unless the trees are properly treated. We have a 12-year (2014-2025), $4-million EAB management plan to respond to the emerald ash borer situation, including selectively treating or removing and replacing ash trees on public property. Please note: at this time there is no longer a subsidy for the treatment or the removal of ash trees on private property. 

Urban Forest Strategic Plan

The City of Peterborough recognizes and values the environmental, social, cultural and economic contribution of the urban forest to our community.

In June 2011, Peterborough’s City Council adopted the Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP), a document to provide guidance and direction for the maintenance, renewal and community awareness of our urban forest resource.

progress report for the Urban Forest Strategic Plan (UFSP) was submitted to council in June of 2016 as part of a 5 year review. The report assesses the work done to date and reassesses the priorities for the next 5 years.

To safeguard the many benefits provided by trees, the City is committed to managing the urban forest by promoting community stewardship and strategic practice to preserve, renew and enhance this essential resource.