Private Tree Permit

A permit is required to remove, cut down or in any other way injure a tree with a diameter of 20cm (8 inches) or more on private property. The tree diameter measurement must be taken at 1.4m (4.5 feet or approximately at chest height) above ground level. It applies to the removal of 1 - 9 trees on all land use types including single family residential properties. For the removal of 10+ trees (greater that 20cm) a Site Alteration Permit is required. 

Private Tree Exemptions

A tree that is dead or imminently hazardous does not require a permit however, the applicant must send a detailed Arborist report via email to for review and acceptance as a hazard tree prior to tree removal.

NOTE: A storm damaged tree or a tree that presents an immediate hazardous condition may be removed to reduce risk or (further) damage. An Arborist report with clear photos of the hazard must be submitted within 48 hours of the tree hazard abatement. A report that does not clearly show the hazard will not be exempted and a permit will be required based on the stump size of the tree removed.

How to Obtain a Private Tree Removal Permit

You can apply for a Private Tree Removal permit online by visiting the Cambridge permits webpage. Permit application fees are non-refundable and payable before submitting the application. Do not apply for a permit if your tree may be a hazard as it may be exempt (see private tree exemption information above). Refunds will not be issued for permit applications submitted for hazard trees that are exempt from a permit.

Completing and submitting a permit application for tree injury or destruction does not guarantee that a permit will be granted.

The following items must be submitted with all permit applications:

  1. Submit your application through the Cambridge Permits Website, including the following mandatory items: 

    a)    Permit Application Fee - $55.00 (fee is non-refundable).

    b)    A completed Permit Application Form, an arborist report signed off by a certified arborist, and permission from neighbor(s) boundary tree

    c)    Clear photos of the entire tree(s) to be injured or destroyed

  2. A complete application will be reviewed for approval, which may take up to 3 weeks.
  3. Once approved, a request for any required compensation payments will be made to the payee on file.
  4. Pay the application fee.
  5. The permit will be issued.

Note: Payment must be in the form of a certified check, bank draft, debit or credit card (MasterCard or Visa) and can be paid at the Service Cambridge counter at City Hall. Online payments only accept Visa or Master Card up to a $10,000 limit.  If submitting a Letter of Credit, please use the template provided.

You may not proceed with the injury or removal of the tree(s) until you have received the permit. More information can be found by viewing the Cambridge Private Tree By-Law (23-105).

Urban forest planning

Urban Forestry is the careful care and management of tree populations in urban settings. Forestry helps improve the environment and raises awareness about how important trees are to the City of Cambridge's infrastructure. Urban foresters plant and maintain trees, support appropriate tree and forest preservation, conduct research and promote the many benefits trees provide.

Learn about trees and yards in Cambridge.

The City of Cambridge has an Urban Forest Plan (2015 to 2034) and the Emerald Ash Borer Action Plan, both approved by Council on June 16, 2015.

Development Applications and Tree Management Plans

Developers are required to submit a Tree Management Plan and follow the Tree Management Policies and Guidelines.

The Tree Management Plan (TMP) will inventory trees, assess their condition, note tree removals, and identify trees to be retained through the grading and construction process and their protection measures. City Forestry Services reviews TMPs and applicants should pay special attention to street trees that are regulated by the City's Tree By-law (City's Tree By-law 71-06, includes amendment By-law 21-068), trees that straddle property lines or are on the applicant's property but close to boundaries, and trees on neighbouring properties and whether they will be impacted by grading/construction, and proposed measures to protect them if they will likely be impacted. Applicants are encouraged to complete a TMP as early as possible to inform site design or the Zoning By-law public meeting and process, or as a required condition on a grading permit or development application.

Urban Canopy Assessment Report

In December 2013, Council received the Cambridge Urban Forest Canopy Assessment Report, Assessment Maps Part 1 and Assessment Maps Part 2, which show:

  • Cambridge has an overall canopy of 27 per cent tree coverage
  • Various neighbourhoods range in tree coverage from 5 to 47 percent
  • A further 25 per cent increase in tree coverage is possible through tree planting initiatives

The report also demonstrated that trees provide us with many valuable ecosystem services, including:

  • Energy conservation
  • Stormwater management
  • Air pollution removal

View the Canopy Assessment area mapping to see current canopy coverage, potential areas for planting and ecosystem services for 38 neighbourhoods and every lot in the City of Cambridge.

Trees and our health

Urban Forestry is also important to the City of Cambridge because mature tress provide shade, which helps protect our health. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada. Shade can reduce ultraviolet exposure by as much as 75 per cent and has been shown to be an effective strategy to reduce skin cancer. With increasing skin cancer rates and summer high temperatures combined with paved surfaces, the shade provided by trees (or other shade structures) is more important than ever.


Providing shade in Cambridge

The City of Cambridge Official Plan contains policies for providing shade in both private and public spaces. The City is committed to providing shade wherever possible, such as in our parks. We'll increase shaded areas in the City in partnership with:

According to the Official Plan, developers may need to participate in shade/sunlight audits and provide increased shade through:

  • Landscape Plans
  • Site Plan Agreements
  • Tree Management Processes

For more information about increasing shade in the community, view the following documents: