Heritage Trees

Photo of Environmental Stewardship Committee Heritage Tree Volunteers


There are certain areas of Atlantic Beach that contain trees or vegetation of special value and concern, and areas areas of such great social, cultural, historical, ecological, environmental or economic significance that they may warrant added measures of protection.

As such, section 23-41 of the Atlantic Beach Code of Ordinances addresses “historic corridors and heritage trees).”

Sec. 23-41. - Historic corridors and heritage trees.

(a)  Designation. The city commission may by resolution designate historic corridors or individual heritage trees. In doing so, the city commission shall specifically identify those streets, or portions thereof, or trees, which shall be so designated.

(b)  Criteria. In considering whether roadways or portions thereof shall be designated as historic corridors, the city commission may consider the following criteria:

(1)  The presence of historically significant tree coverage or landscaping, as individual plants or in groupings.

(2)  The presence of culturally significant tree coverage or landscaping.

(3)  The presence of significant architectural structures with associated tree coverage or landscaping.

(c)  Documentation. The administrator shall maintain a record of all historic corridors so designated and their location shall be reflected on city maps as such.

(d)  Mitigation. Mitigation required for the removal of designated heritage trees and trees within designated historic corridors, shall be at a higher rate than removal of nondesignated tree(s), as specified in section 23-33, as an extra measure to encourage protection of such trees.

In December 2017, in conjunction with the City of Atlantic Beach’s Arbor Day celebration activities, the City Commission approved the Environmental Stewardship Committee’s nomination of a landmark 40-inch-diameter Live Oak tree at Johansen Park as a Heritage Tree. That project was carried out in connection with the City’s application to be designated a Tree City USA; the application was approved. The Johansen Park tree is the third tree to be designated by the City Commission as Heritage Trees; the other two are on private property.

According to the City of Atlantic Beach Tree Protection Code definitions, Heritage Trees on city-owned property (parks and rights-of-way) are “any tree determined by the City Commission to be of unique or intrinsic value due to its age, size, species, and/or cultural, ecological or historical significance or some other contribution to the city’s character, specifically including all Cypress, Live Oak and Magnolia trees with diameter 30 inches or greater.”

Although a Heritage Tree designation does not prevent a tree from ever being removed, it makes it more difficult and costly to remove. Protected trees must be mitigated at a rate of one inch for every two inches removed; a Heritage Tree must be mitigated at a rate of one inch for every inch removed.

Interested in applying to have your tree designated as a “Heritage Tree”? Here’s an application.

For additional information, contact the Planning and Community Development Department at 247-5817 or trees@coab.us.