Part of: Urban Forests for Healthier Cities: Policy, Planning, Regulations, and Institutional Arrangements


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Zoning (or development control regulation) is a tool that can be used to enact ordinances used to define and delineate development and land-use. (O’Brien et al, 2017Miller, Hauer, & Werner, 2015)

Zoning scheme of city of Skopje, North Macedonia. Different colors represent designated zoning regulations.

Cities may use zoning to create, expand, or maintain urban forests. For example, zoning may provide a mechanism to:

  • Mandate the amount of open space in a city, leaving room for trees to grow
  • Designate protected or sensitive areas such as riparian buffer strips or steep slopes
  • Regulate patterns of development in a way that leaves room for urban forests
  • Provide tree planting requirements for new projects
Since 1991, the city of Chicago’s landscape ordinance has required installation of trees during development. Planting of trees is required following the construction or rehabilitation of many buildings. Developers must plant one tree for approximately every 8 meters of development frontage. (City of Chicago, 2000) Photo: Roman Boed, Flickr.
In the 1990’s, the city of Quito, Ecuador took actions to dedicate space for and protect its urban forests. The city put in place extensive ordinances outlining regulations related to land use, zoning, subdivision of land, and more. For example, every new housing development must set aside 10% of its land to create public open space, which dedicates land for trees to be planted and thrive. (Murray, 1997) Photo: putneymark, Flickr.