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Collage of Forestry Services: pruning, stump removal, tree planting, and tree specialist consultation

About Us

The Forestry section of the Streets Division provides tree planting, pruning, and maintenance for nearly 100,000 trees along more than 700 miles of Madison streets.

Forestry staff takes great pride in our rigid safety standards; whether planting a new tree or cleaning up after a major storm, we are dedicated to the safety of workers, residents, and property.


tree inventory underway

Starting on September 18, 2023, a private company named Davey will begin a street tree survey for the Urban Forestry section.

This is contracted work paid for by the Urban Forestry Task Force budget allocation.

What you will see in this work is a person in a vehicle marked "Davey" note the size and species of the tree in the right of way space along the street in front of your home.  They will be using a tablet computer to note this information. 


Why is this happening?

The current tree data is unfortunately out of date, and this inventory will fix that.  This work is also part of a new street tree software program we have called TreeKeeper.

More details and some fun public facing features of this tool will be available once the survey is complete. Stay tuned for more information about this - but please be patient as it will be a while.


How long will it take to do this survey?

A considerable amount of time. We expect this contracted survey to take several months at least. We have nearly 100,000 street trees in Madison after all  - so it will take a very long time to get to all of them.


Where will the survey begin?

The survey work will begin far east side of Madison on September 18, 2023.  The survey crews will progress westward until all streetside trees have been catalogued.



Spongy moth

Visit our spongy moth page to get the resources you need to respond to spongy moths.


Maple Tapping

Tapping maples in the terrace for any reason is not allowed.

Tapping of street trees is prohibited by ordinance. Tapping trees damages them and can spread disease.


Work on Oak trees

By ordinance (MGO 23.40(7)), a permit is required to work on any oak within the City of Madison between April 1 and October 15.

The permit is free. Contact the Forestry office to begin the process.

Permits are issued on an emergency basis and a bid for a consultation from a private arborist must be obtained as well.


Replanting City-Owned Street Trees

The City of Madison uses the "Right Tree in the Right Place" best management practices supported by the International Society of Arboriculture and the Arbor Day Foundation when determining which kind of tree to plant.

This criterion promotes urban forest diversity and is applied equitably throughout the city.

Forestry plants in the spring and again in the fall, and most trees will be replaced within three planting cycles.

Per Madison General Ordinance 10.10, the Forestry section determines tree type, species, and planting location. In order to have a diverse and resilient urban forest, resident’s tree species request are not permitted.

For more information, please see our FAQs. 


Private Tree Concerns

Private trees are those not located within public parks, golf courses, cemeteries, or the city right-of-way.

If your neighborhood has sidewalks, the right-of-way (also known as the terrace) is typically the area between the sidewalk and the street. If you do not have a sidewalk, the right-of-way is the space between the street and your property line.

Private oaks are covered by the City of Madison General Ordinances. From April 1st though October 15th, work on private oaks must be permitted. The permit is free but requires an inspection by Urban Forestry staff. More information can be found here.

Damage to private trees is the property owner's responsibility. We recommend residents contact certified arborists for private tree needs. For more information on finding a certified arborist near you, please visit the Wisconsin Arborist Association.

If you have a concern about a private tree that is not on your property, please contact the City of Madison Building Inspection.