The Role of Tree Preservation Ordinances in Green Infrastructure

Zoning Practice — September 2012

By Nancy Templeton, AICP, David Rouse, FAICP


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The premise of green infrastructure planning is that the vegetative elements of the landscape, including trees, shrubs, grass, etc., interact with other natural systems of air, water, and soil to protect and enhance ecosystem functionality within urban environments. While all vegetative elements, including open green spaces, are part of a community's green infrastructure network, urban forests arguably comprise the largest structural component of the network.

As urban areas continue to expand across the country, communities will depend more and more on the benefits of the urban forest as the largest component of the green infrastructure network. Protecting and enhancing this valuable resource is critical as a growing body of research and planning in green infrastructure has quantified the social, environmental, and fiscal benefits of the urban forest.

This issue of Zoning Practice explores the benefits of urban trees, discusses regulations that communities have used to protect and enhance their tree canopies, and offers suggestions for creating an integrated green infrastructure code.


Page Count
Date Published
Sept. 1, 2012
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Nancy Templeton, AICP

David Rouse, FAICP
David Rouse, FAICP, ASLA is a consultant, educator, and author with over 40 years of experience in urban and regional planning and design. From 2013 to 2019, he served as Managing Director of Research and Advisory Services for APA, where he supervised programs and initiatives such as Green Communities, Planning and Community Health, the Sustaining Places Comprehensive Plan Standards, and Planning for Autonomous Vehicles. Prior to joining APA David was a principal at the planning and design firm Wallace Roberts & Todd in Philadelphia, where many of his projects received professional awards for excellence. David's areas of expertise include comprehensive planning, green infrastructure, and planning for emerging technologies. With Rocky Piro, he co-authored The Comprehensive Plan: Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Communities for the 21st Century, published in 2022 by Routledge Press.