11. Identify and protect heritage and landmark trees

Heritage trees are mature native trees, often majestic and revered. Landmark trees are mature, non-native trees with historical value. Cities and counties nationwide often have ordinances protecting heritage and landmark trees.


Areas of Interest: Looking Around, Thinking, Investigating, Writing
Ingredients: Comfortable shoes, telephone, tree circumference-measuring tape, tree identification guide
Directions: Contact your city or county arborist or agencies and request information regarding tree protection laws. If there are none, you might consider creating such an ordinance. Hopefully there are current ordinances describing the types and sizes of trees protected by law. Generally municipalities have a minimum tree size to qualify for heritage or landmark status and a procedure for registering a tree. The national nonprofit American Forests also has a National Register of Big Trees and a Famous and Historic Trees program.1
Measure the circumference of each tree four feet above the ground to ascertain the Diameter Breast Height (DBH). Note the species of each tree and any other information required by the municipality. When you have completed the data, send all information to the appropriate municipal office. Once the trees are identified, monitor them to be sure public and private interests respect these heritage and landmark trees.