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The Planners' Guide to Trees in the Urban Landscape

  • 08:00 - 6 December, 2016
  • by
  • Translated by Matthew Valletta
The Planners' Guide to Trees in the Urban Landscape
The Planners' Guide to Trees in the Urban Landscape, via

Tree and Design Action Group is a group that “shares the collective vision that the location of trees, and all the benefits they bring, can be secured for future generations through better collaboration in the planning, design, construction and management of our urban infrastructure and spaces.”

“Trees make places look and feel better, as well as playing a role in climate proofing our neighborhoods and supporting human health and environmental well-being, trees can also help to create conditions for economic success.” The Trees in the Townscape guide presents a modern approach to urban forestry, providing officials and professionals with the principles and references needed to realize the potential of vegetation in urban areas.

This is an approach that keeps pace with and responds to the challenges of our times. “Trees in the Townscape offers a comprehensive set of 12 action-oriented principles which can be adapted to the unique context of [any] own town or city.”

Who should use the 12 principles?

“The 12 principles in Trees in the Townscape are for everyone involved in making or influencing decisions that shape the spaces and places in which we live. It will be particularly relevant to local elected members, policy makers and community groups. It will also be useful to those professionals who bring their technical expertise to facilitate delivery, such as engineers, architects, landscape architects or urban designers."

How were the 12 principles developed?

“This guide was developed by the Trees and Design Action Group (TDAG) based on over 40 interviews and wide consultation with key knowledge holders in the built environment sector including civil engineers, insurers, developers, designers, planners, tree officers, sustainability specialists, arboriculturist, tree nursery managers, ecologists, academics, and not-for-profit organisations specialising in community engagement and trees."

The Planners' Guide to Trees in the Urban Landscape, via

Here is a brief description of each of the 12 principles:


1- Know Your Tree Resource

Create and maintain easy-to-use records of the existing canopy cover and the nature and condition of the tree population.

2- Have a Comprehensive Tree Strategy

Produce, adopt and implement a collaborative strategy for protecting, developing and managing a thriving, benefit-generating urban forest which is in tune with local needs and aspirations.

3 - Embed Trees Into Policy and Other Plans

Adopt clear standards for the protection, care, and planting of trees in local plans.


4 - Make Tree-Friendly Places

Create places where tree species can thrive and deliver their full range of benefits without causing harmful nuisance. 

5 - Pick the Right Trees

Select and use trees appropriate to the context.

6 - Seek Multiple Benefits

Harvest the full range of benefits trees can deliver as part of a local green infrastructure system, focusing on key local aspirations.


7 - Procure a Healthy Tree

Plant healthy, vigorous trees that have been adequately conditioned to thrive in the environment in which they are destined to live. 

8 - Provide Soil, Air and Water

Ensure trees have access to the nutrients, oxygen and water they need to fulfil their genetic potential for growth and longevity.

9 - Create Stakeholders

Work with local political, professional and community stakeholders to champion the value of trees in the townscape. 


10 - Take an Asset Management Approach

Inform all planning, management and investment decisions with a robust understanding of both the costs and the value trees deliver. 

11 - Be Risk Aware (Rather than Risk Averse)

Take a balanced and proportionate approach to tree safety management.

12 - Adjust Management to Needs

Conduct proactive and tailored tree maintenance to ensure optimum benefits in response to local needs.

To see the complete guide, click here.

This is an adapted version of the original guide released by TGAD with a focus on trees in urban areas.

About this author
Cite: Baratto, Romullo. "The Planners' Guide to Trees in the Urban Landscape" [Árvores na paisagem urbana - um guia para os planejadores e autoridades] 06 Dec 2016. ArchDaily. (Trans. Valletta, Matthew) Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884
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