Tree Protection and Tree Removal in Brookline

Photograph of large tree on top of hill with a clear, cloudless sky behind it

Resources Regarding Private Tree Care and Removal

Public Shade Tree Removal

Massachusetts General Law Chapter 87 protects public shade trees.

The Brookline Parks and Open Space Division does not remove town trees without good reason. The town will not remove trees because they drop leaves or acorns, because it has grown too large or shades a private lawn, or because it is not conveniently located. The removal of public shade trees requires a public hearing in front of the Tree Planting Committee and the Tree Warden as prescribed by state law.

How to Request the Removal of a Public Shade Tree

If you wish to pursue the removal of a public shade tree you begin by submitting a written request to the Tree Warden, which must state your name and address, the location of the tree you are requesting be removed, and the reason for the request. This will then begin the process, which will include a public hearing, and culminate in a decision by the Tree Warden either approving or denying the requested removal.

Private Tree Removal

Brookline's Stormwater Management Bylaw (Article 8.26) was amended in September, 2018 to include tree protection measures. If you are planning to remove more than 32" in aggregate of "protected trees" (defined as trees greater than 8" diameter at breast height), you are required to submit a Tree Removal Permit Application through the Engineering Division. Please note that there is no cost associated with applying for a Tree Removal Permit. However, if the limit of work impacts 2,500 square feet or more, the plan will have to go through DPW's  site plan review process

This application should include the following:

  • An Erosion and Sediment Control Plan – this plan should show existing tree diameters and locations, designating those to be removed and those to remain. This information may be shown on a plot plan or on a print-out from Google maps or something similar (it should show the boundaries of your property). 
  • A written description of the scope of the work, including proposed erosion control measures and protective measures for the trees to remain.
  • Additional information may be required for projects of major significance.

Submit your completed Tree Removal Permit Application to the Town of Brookline’s Engineering Division. You may submit via email to [email protected] or mail a hardcopy to:
Town of Brookline Engineering Division
333 Washington Street
Brookline MA 02445

Other Considerations:

Emergency activities for the protection of life, property, or natural resources may constitute an exemption from the Stormwater Bylaw review process. Please contact the Town of Brookline’s Engineering Division if you believe your work to be exempt.

More information can be found by contacting the Town of Brookline's Engineering Division.