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When Do You Need An Arborist Report? Part 1

Arborist foot in ash tree

What are Some Reasons Your Property Needs a Certified Arborist Report?

You may have heard the term “arborist report”, or been told you need one for some planned work. But what is an arborist report, and when do you need one?

We’ll look at a few situations where you’ll require an arborist report. In some cases, a report will be required to obtain a permit for a tree removal or construction. In other cases, it may be important for a homeowner or someone looking to buy a new house. When buying a new home, people often don’t think of the trees and their safety or cost. Having an arborist assess the trees before you purchase or soon after can help avoid dangerous situations and unexpected costs.

What Goes in an Arborist Report?

An arborist report gives specific information about the trees involved in and affected by the proposed work. Depending on the purpose of the report, it may look at only one tree, several trees, or all the trees on a property. A tree inspection report looks at the size, location, condition and health of any trees in question, as well as any disease or infestations.

If the purpose of the report involves work to be done, it will also outline the nature of that work and any protection measures to be undertaken to the trees involved or neighbouring trees.

For a report that accompanies a permit application, the city’s arboriculture department will look at the legitimacy of the request. They’ll also look at  whether your contractors have planned enough protections to existing trees. If they haven’t your application could be delayed or denied. The report helps the city decide whether to approve your request.This is why involving an arborist from the beginning can prevent costly delays.

With a removal, the report will also give your reason for removing the tree. The arborist’s recommendations will be included as well as information on replacement tree planting.

Tree Removals

Arborist doing ash tree removal in Scarborough

The restrictions around GTA tree removals vary slightly for each community in the area. For most municipalities, you’ll need a permit for removing medium and large trees. In the City of Toronto, you’ll need a Toronto tree removal permit to remove any tree 30 cm or more in diameter. You’ll also need one  for a “street tree” of any size. This includes most front yard trees, which are usually situated on the road allowance area of your property.

Other areas restrict tree removals based on different sizes, or number of trees removed. Oakville tree removals of trees over 15 cm require a permit and only companies licensed in Oakville may work there. For Mississauga tree removals, permits are required to remove three or more trees greater than 15 cm diameter in a calendar year. Richmond Hill requires a permit for removing trees over 20 cm in diameter. Some municipalities don’t require reports or waive fees for dead trees or certain invasive species.

The report helps the city’s urban forestry department determine the legitimacy of a request for tree removal. City inspectors will then conduct their own inspection and verify the report before your permit is granted. Vista, and most tree care companies, will handle the permit application for you for planned tree removals.

New Construction

Arborist reports are required for most building permit applications where there are existing trees on the property or affected area. This includes new buildings and additions. Sometimes planned construction will require removal of a tree. In this case, the tree removal permit policy is followed.

Tree construction protection at University of Toronto campus

If the construction involves building or tearing down structures, driveways, patios, etc. near trees, parking construction vehicles, storing materials, or dumping chemicals or other construction material (paint, concrete residue, etc.) near trees, a report is required.

For construction that may affect trees without removing them, your arborist report will need to assess which trees are affected and how they will be affected. Your municipality will use the report to determine the impact of your proposed construction on trees and assess whether a reasonable protection plan is in place.

Each municipality in the GTA has its own tree protection bylaws for construction. Your arborist is familiar with the bylaws and can ensure that your construction plan is compliant with the local bylaws.

The arborist report for construction may include a recommendation on whether each tree should be preserved, removed or transplanted. Your city’s urban forestry department will also be looking at the reason for each recommendation and the proposed plan for activities like transplanting.

Are you thinking about buying a home, building a pool or planning a new garden? You may need an arborist report for these too! Check out Part two of this post: When Do I Need a Tree Inspection Report? or contact Vista Tree to get an arborist report for your tree removal, new project or home.