Healthy Tree Removals

The latest quarterly report figures show that the City of Atlanta has broken records for three quarters straight for healthy tree loss. We lost more in each of the last three quarters individually than we did in the two quarters before that combined.

The chart below shows the number of healthy trees removed over the past five quarters, with the data for each quarter prior to that being possibly overstated due to a programming error that double-counted trees when a Plan Review permitted trees in more than one quarter.*  The Arborist Division is supposed to have the data for all quarters prior to 3rd Quarter 2022 (calendar year) corrected and republished by year-end 2023.

Click on the image below to enlarge.

healthy private property trees removed no covid line

Upon request, Arborist Division Manager David Zarparanick provided us with information on the larger commercial and multi-family housing projects that have contributed to the high tree loss numbers over the past three quarters. However, we were unable to dig any deeper into the quarterly report data to discern if there are any trends based on location or type of project for tree removal. The only tree-permitting data publicly available is the Accela permitting database which allows us to look up the tree loss by individual permit only.

Here is a description of the larger projects that caused the most significant tree loss in the first three quarters of the 2023 calendar year:

1st Quarter:

In total, 62% of the trees that were permitted to be removed in the first quarter were on just five properties.

  • 3611 Jonesboro Road SW: 1,172 trees were permitted for removal in a land development permit (LD-202000108) for a 171,183 sq. ft. warehouse.  Only 49 trees are scheduled to be replaced.

    • Another land development permit (LD-202000074) was issued just last year to clear the property of 606 trees right next door, at 3539 Jonesboro Road SW, for a proposed service station.  Only 20 trees were scheduled to be replaced at that site.
  • 1,628 trees were removed from four other properties, ranging from 642 to 264 trees that were lost.  No individual details on those permits or tree replacement were provided. 

2nd Quarter:

In total, 47% of the trees that were permitted to be removed in the second quarter came from a single project at Tyler Perry Studios.

  • 1410 Campbellton Rd (Tyler Perry Studios): 1,888 trees were permitted for removal in a land development permit (LD-202200105)  for the construction of new sound stages. 1,546 trees are scheduled to be replanted with an average caliper of 3.35", a slightly larger size than the 2.5" required by the Tree Ordinance, but even with this proposed tree replanting there is a total net DBH loss of 83%.

  • Another 375 trees were permitted to be removed in a land disturbance permit for an apartment complex with 88 units, a community room, leasing office, community garden, and a playground. No address, permit number, or number of trees replaced were provided.

3rd Quarter:

In total, 69% of the trees that were permitted to be removed in the first quarter were on just three properties:

  • 3261 Hogan Road SW: 2,290 trees were permitted for removal in a land development permit (LD-202200025) for a proposed multifamily site of a 5.2-acre area of villas (192 units) and an 8.3-acre area of flats (256 units) with parking structures.   Only 191 trees will be replaced.

    • Also planned is a future townhome development which will be under a separate permit.

  • 1968 Marietta Road NW: Another 677 trees were permitted to be destroyed in a land disturbance permit (LD-202200093) for an industrial warehouse with loading docks and employee surface parking. 454 trees are scheduled to be replaced but will be no larger than a 2.5" caliper, so the total net DBH loss is 87%.

  • 2575 Alston Drive SE (East Lake Golf Course): 619 more trees were permitted for removal in a two-phase golf course renovation.

    • Phase 1: 273 trees were permitted for removal in the land development permit LD-202300024.  150 trees are scheduled to be replaced.

    • Phase 2: 346 trees were permitted for removal in land development permit LD-202300052.  No trees will be replaced.

*It was discovered in the summer of 2022 that whenever additional trees were added to a Plan Review (construction) permit in a quarter following the quarter the initial permit was issued, the subsequent quarterly report recounted all the trees that had been permitted the prior quarter. Also, there were some trees removed for infrastructure purposes were left off the quarterly reports. After confirming that these programming errors had affected all prior quarterly reports, the Arborist Division stopped producing them on healthy trees but continued producing them for trees removed as dead, dying, or hazardous (DDH) or without a permit (illegally).  This means that while we have historical data on trees permitted as DDH or removed illegally, we presently do not have historical data on healthy tree removal before July 2022.

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