Florida's Trees

Our Priceless Urban Tree Canopy is Disappearing

Florida’s Trees
News, City Programs and Additional Resources

Trees, especially those along our streets and highways, greatly enhance the scenic beauty of our communities. Canopied streets in downtowns not only provide much-needed shade, but also be a catalyst for downtown revitalization. Trees on private property are proven to increase property values.

A healthy tree canopy is crucial to a community’s environmental well-being. Trees help cool urban heat islands and reduce energy consumption. Planted in the right areas they will also help reduce storm water runoff and help cities become more resilient.

That’s why it’s vitally important to plant, preserve and protect trees. Here are some important things to consider:


Many local governments have ongoing programs to plant trees in public spaces – along streets and in parks, schools, and playgrounds. If your city or town doesn’t have a tree planting, you and your neighbors should probably be asking why it doesn’t. Some Florida cities fund their tree planting programs in whole or in part from mitigation fees required by tree protection ordinances when owners clear land for development.

When planting, remember – “right tree, right place.”  Plant native or Florida-friendly trees and never plant nuisance or invasive trees, such as Australian pine, camphor and Chinese tallow. A list of trees classified as invasive may be found on the Florida Invasive Species Council List.

Make sure the tree being planted won’t grow too large for the space. Will the roots damage sidewalks or foundations? If the tree requires frequent, severe pruning it’s probably the wrong tree for that space. Local urban foresters or county agricultural extension agents are great resources for advice on choosing the right tree for the space.

Preserving and Protecting

The cornerstone of protecting a community’s tree canopy is a strong, effective, and properly enforced tree protection ordinance. Most ordinances protect trees of a certain size, almost always with exemptions for dead or dying trees or invasive species, and sometimes with exemptions for single-family residential property. A good tree protection ordinance not only requires permits for removal but, when removal is necessary, also requires replacement planting or tree mitigation payments into a city-run tree fund.

Maintenance of the tree canopy is important to its growth and survival. A good maintenance program includes fertilization and pruning for the health of the tree.

When pruning your own trees, always follow best practices and avoid excessive pruning. For example, contrary to popular belief, crepe myrtles should need little or no pruning. If you’re committing “crepe murder” to keep a tree under control, you probably planted the wrong variety for the location.

Scenic Florida is happy to share these additional resources for your use in creating a beautiful and healthy tree canopy in your community.

All Things Trees by Local Govts

Trees – Trimming and Removal – Codes and Enforcement

“These two Kings and two Queens governed Narnia well, and long and happy was their reign. . . .  And they made good laws and kept the peace and saved good trees from being unnecessarily cut down…”

C. S. Lewis

From The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Before Homeowner Went to Work

Back From Work – Suprise!


Ugly “over the limit” tree trimming

Tampa Concentrating on Large Scale Offenders

Is Tampa’s tree canopy shrinking because of a change in state law?

Read More

“Tampa tree service company fined more than $234K for cutting down protected trees”

Read More


22 Benefits – Street Trees

Brochure Here(.pdf)

Walkable Communities

Florida Urban Forestry Council

A great resource on tree issues. Their monthly newsletter is always full of good information and their conferences are packed with all kinds of information on urban tree issues.  https://fufc.org/

Planit Geo

They have many resources and news on their site. In 2022, Planit Geo did a two-part webinar on tree ordinances. Their webinars are archived and can be viewed online.  https://planitgeo.com/urban-forestry-webinars/

Trees – Preemption

City of Tampa Response

Senate Bill 518 – Tampa’s Updated Interpretation of the Tree Removal Statutory Exemption, Fla. Stat. Sec. 163.045
2022-12-21 Tampa sb_518_citys_updated_interpretation_of_the_tree_removal_statutory_exemption.pdf

Florida’s Trees in the News

“Tiny Forests With Big Benefits”

“Tiny Forests With Big Benefits”

Photo: Cassandra Klos for The New York Times "The tiny forest lives atop an old landfill in the city of Cambridge, Mass. Though it is still a baby, it’s already acting quite a bit older than its actual age, which is just shy of 2. Its aspens are growing at twice the...

Using Trees to Calm Traffic

Using Trees to Calm Traffic

Photo: From article on CaseyTrees.org "During the COVID-19 pandemic, regional and national trends showed a sharp increase in vehicle-related fatalities – so much so that 2021 was the deadliest year on D.C. roads in over a decade. Since 2015, D.C. has participated in...

“Best place to park? In the shade, of course!”

“Best place to park? In the shade, of course!”

Photo: Scenic Jacksonville "We need many M????RE shade trees planted throughout Jacksonville, like this Southern Magnolia, to ensure cooler walking, dining, lounging, spectating, strolling, biking and yes, parking spaces." -- Scenic Jacksonville Visit Scenic...

“In honor of Sallye Garrigan Jude”

“In honor of Sallye Garrigan Jude”

Photo: Coral Gables Garden Club "The Coral Gables Garden Club members voted unanimously to dedicate “Project Canopy” to our dear Life Member, Sallye Jude. The City of Coral Gables honored the Coral Gables Garden Club and Sallye Jude for her environmental work by...

“Taking care of trees in Northeast Florida”

“Taking care of trees in Northeast Florida”

Photo: A lion tailed tree, Larry Figart "Sometimes we take trees for granted. We see them as the pillars in our landscape and sometimes forget that they are living things that need the same conditions to live and thrive as our favorite flower, shrub or groundcover......

Palm Beach: Planting native trees

Palm Beach: Planting native trees

Photo: Kim Frisbie, Palm Beach Daily News "...Trees protect coastal communities from severe flooding and storms by slowing water’s strength and absorbing excess water in the soil, preventing billions of gallons of runoff annually. And let’s not forget ecological...

“Ormond Beach to plant over 100 palm trees in Granada Boulevard medians. Lethal Bronzing Disease has infected and killed palm trees in 31 Florida counties. City staff said that likely won’t happen here.”

“Ormond Beach to plant over 100 palm trees in Granada Boulevard medians. Lethal Bronzing Disease has infected and killed palm trees in 31 Florida counties. City staff said that likely won’t happen here.”

Photo: Brian Bahder, UF/IFAS "For over a decade, palm trees in Florida have been facing a plague with no cure...Lethal Bronzing Disease (LBD). City Landscape Architect Cara Culliver said there have been no cases of the disease in Volusia County. The palms that were...

“Protecting Florida’s Waters by Planting Trees”

“Protecting Florida’s Waters by Planting Trees”

Photo: WGCU Pixabay "We’re looking at a preemptive approach to reducing the possibility of harmful algae blooms by reducing the amount of nutrients from stormwater runoff that wind up in the water in the first place -- by planting trees. A local nonprofit called...

Jacksonville: Comprehensive tree survey approved

"...Last month the city Environmental Protection Board approved a $103,000 proposal from Greenscape and Public Trust Environmental Legal Institute of Florida for a citywide tree survey. The measure must be approved by the City Council, which could take three or four...