Tree Removal Process

Property owners often approach the Conservation Commission for approval to remove trees in a Wetland Resource Area or Buffer Zones on their lot because they either pose a safety threat, or interfere substantially with the landowner’s use of property. Therefore, the Conservation Commission developed a Tree Removal Policy to:

  • Expedite the approval process for tree cutting requests;
  • Provide consistent implementation of the Commission’s policy under its wetland regulatory authority;
  • Recognize the ecological value of natural wooded areas close to wetlands, streams, and waterways;
  • Protect the ecological functions trees provide in Jurisdictional Areas; and
  • Allow landowners to maintain safety and enjoyment for people and property

Jurisdictional Areas

Landowners must obtain prior permission from the Commission before work of any kind (e.g., tree or brush removal or trimming, vegetation removal or cutting, lawn expansion, soil grading, and construction) is conducted in the following areas, over which the Commission has jurisdiction:

  • Wetland Resource Areas, defined as 100-year flood zones, wetlands, streams, ponds, and marshes
  • Riverfront Areas (land within 200 feet of a perennial stream)
  • Buffer Zones - Land within 100 feet of a Wetland Resource Area. A strict standard of review applies to the area within 25-feet of a Wetland Resource Area (the No Disturb Zone, or NDZ).

Wetland Resource Areas and Riverfront Areas may sometimes appear to be dry and thus difficult to identify, so all landowners are encouraged to contact the Conservation Office at 781-786-5068 to discuss any proposed work. 

Please note that work of any kind (e.g. vegetation removal or cutting, lawn expansion, soil grading, and construction) in a Jurisdictional Area must also be permitted. Please contact the Conservation Office prior to engaging in this activity on your property. 


Trees in Jurisdictional Areas perform ecological functions by providing habitat for wildlife, reducing flood elevations, stabilizing soil, assisting nutrient uptake that improves water quality, and providing shade that contributes to healthy vegetation and cool water. Even dead trees provide habitat for cavity-nesters and organic nutrients for soil. 

The loss of trees cut in a Wetland Resource Area or the 25’ NDZ shall be mitigated as follows:

  1. Large trees (>20” DBH): for every 1 large tree cut, the owner shall plant 1 native tree sapling or 2 native shrubs.
  2. Medium trees (11”-20” DBH): for every 5 (or subset of 5) medium trees proposed to be cut, the owner shall plant 1 native tree sapling or 2 native shrubs

Any tree removal request that requires mitigation must submit a Native Plant Mitigation Plan, which is found on page 7 of the Tree and Shrub Replacement Guide (PDF).

Please note that trees removed in the 100’ Buffer Zone but outside of the 25’ NDZ or in Riverfront Area and trees under 11” DBH are not required to be mitigated. 

Application and Approval Process

Landowners should carefully review the following Tree Removal Policy and the Tree/Shurb Replacement Guide before submitting the online Tree Removal Application to the Conservation office. The review and approval process is outlined in the policy: