Tree Conservation

Last updated Aug. 24, 2018 - 10:15 am

Tree conservation is a regulatory requirement for some residential and commercial development projects.  The requirement applies to existing stands of trees that are to be saved based either on location or basal area, a term used in forest management that measures stand density.

There are other regulations related to tree removal that do no fall under tree conservation, such as minor tree removal, which is reviewed under a separate process.  

Tree conservation reviews are required as part of these plan reviews:

Site Plan approval

Commercial building plans

Residential building plans | Single family and duplex

Single family residential plans that are on sites of two acres or more in size will need to comply with UDO section 9.1.10 or establish tree conservation areas.

Permits Issued

  • Tree Conservation Area: Issued for the establishment of tree conservation areas
  • Tree Buffer Protection: Issued for the removal of trees interior to the protected perimeter buffers (UDO 9.1.10)
  • Tree Conservation Pruning: Issued for approved tree pruning within a tree conservation area
  • Tree Conservation Removal: Issued for approved tree removal within a tree conservation area
  • Other Tree Disturbing Activity: Issued for approved tree disturbing activity within a tree conservation are or protected perimeter buffer

Key Steps in The Process

  1. The first is approval of the locations with any subdivision or site plan for a site two acres or larger, under the requirements of UDO article 9.1.
  2. The next is issuance of a tree conservation permit. 
  3. The third is the recordation of these areas on a recorded map that has been approved by the city and then taken to the local county register of deeds for recordation. Tree Conservation Plat Statement.

Submittal Requirements

Required for Submittal
Required for Tree Conservation Areas that must contain at least 30 square feet of basal area
  • Tree cover report. Requirements of a tree cover report appear in UDO section 9.1.4.E.3.b
  • Aerial photograph and sets of photo panoramic panels. An actual survey of trees may be submitted in place of an aerial photograph and photo panoramic panels

Additional Information

  • Metes and bounds are not required for initial preliminary plan review
  • Tree conservation and grading reviews are typically done during the concurrent plan review; however, a tree conservation review may be done separately after a preliminary plan is approved, if requested.

Expected Processing Time

Ten business days


  • Tree conservation area permit is assessed per acre of tree conservation area.
  • See Development Fee Schedule for specific fees
  • Fee is due at the end of the process before permit is issued
  • The Development Services Customer Service Center processes payments.
  • Payment types include cash, MasterCard, Visa or check made payable to the City of Raleigh.

Next Steps

Tree conservation areas must be recorded prior to or concurrent with subdivision recording with the local county register of deeds office prior to issuance of a building permit and after plat approval from City of Raleigh.

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