Vancouver urban trees

Compendium of Best Urban Forest Management Practices

Chapter 13. Tree Protection during Construction/Trees and Building Foundations

Return to the Compendium homepage here:
Compendium of Best Urban Forest Management Practices →

Experts agree that tree protection during construction is more important (and less expensive) than tree expansion (see Species Selection and Planting section) programs after the fact. Construction activities such as paving, sidewalk installations, excavation, and road widening can severely affect existing trees. Some areas of impact are root cutting, branch abrasions and trunk fractures; these injuries can lead to rot and decay, structural damage, canopy loss or tree death. Properly valuing green space and implementing a strategy to monitor, sample, measure and protect vegetation is critical to urban development preceding the construction stages to effectively preserve the urban forest and maintain its integrity. Similarly, there exists a wealth of information on the complex relationship between trees and building foundations as they relate to soil types, surface drainage practices and the variation between species of trees.


Tree Protection Guidelines: City of Ottawa, ON
Tree Protection Plans, City of Calgary, AB
Tree Guidelines: City of Burnaby, BC
Protection of Trees Bylaw: City of Vancouver, BC
Tree Protection Standards: City of Thunder Bay, ON
Protecting Trees from Construction Damage

Online documents (.PDF or .DOC)

Development Guidelines for Landscape Construction: Calgary, AB
City of Toronto: Tree Protection Policy and Specifications for Construction near Trees

Non-Canadian sites & resources

Avoiding Tree Damage during Construction, ISA
City of Seattle: Tree Protection and Development
A Guide to Preserving Trees in Development Projects, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences
Tree Preservation Ordinance: City of Pleasanton, CA
Urban and Peri-urban Forests in a Development Context: Strategy and Implementation (.PDF)
Preventing Construction Damage to Trees, Iowa State University
Protecting Trees from Construction Damage: A Homeowner’s Guide (.PDF)
Hazard Tree Web Page, USDA Forest Service

Bibliographical Resources:

Despot, D., Gerhold, H. (2003). Preserving trees in construction projects: Identifying incentives and barriers. Journal of Arboriculture, Vol. 29 (5). pp. 267-275.

Grahn, P., Stigsdotter, U. (2003). Landscape Planning and Stress. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, Vol. 2, pp. 1-18.

Matheny, Nelda and Clark, James. Trees and Development: A Technical Guide to Preservation of Trees during Land Development. International Society of Arboriculture, 1998. 162 p.

Watson, G., Neely, D. (1995). Trees and Building Sites: Proceedings of an International Conference Held in the Interest of Developing a Scientific Basis for Managing Trees in Proximity to Buildings. International Society of Arboriculture, Champaign, IL. 191 pp.


Connect with the largest network of urban forest professionals in Canada