What Trees are Protected in Victoria BC? 

What Trees are Protected in Victoria BC? 

The purpose of the Tree Protection Bylaws is to provide for the protection and preservation of trees on private property, including those that are undergoing development. If you would like to prune or remove a tree, or work in the protected zone, a permit may be required. 

What classifies as a protected tree?

You may need to apply for a tree permit if you are planning to prune or remove a protected tree on your property. Protected trees include:

  • A tree with a diameter over 30 cm
  • A hedge that contains any single stem with a diameter over 30 cm
  • Garry Oak (Quercus garryana), Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia) or Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) over 50 cm in height measured above natural grade
  • A replacement tree
  • A tree that is protected by a restrictive covenant in favour of the City
  • A tree of any size that is on a slope where the slope grade is greater than 33 per cent over 10 metres
  • A tree of any size that is within 15 metres of the natural boundary of a watercourse

Protected trees in City of Victoria

Trees defined as “Protected” under the City of Victoria bylaw include

  • Arbutus.
  • Garry Oak.
  • Pacific Dogwood.
  • Pacific Yew.

Protected trees in Saanich

Trees defined as “Protected” under the bylaw. 

When a tree is defined as “Protected”, certain rules apply. For example you may require a permit to remove it, and Saanich can only issue permits for certain reasons, as per the Bylaw.

Trees are Protected for various reasons. From the tree type, size or its location, a rough guide of which trees are protected includes:

Trees Protected – when at least 2m tall or 4cm in diameter:

  • Arbutus
  • Garry Oak
  • Pacific Dogwood
  • Pacific Yew

Trees Protected when- diameter at breast height (1.4m) is 30cm or more:

  • Douglas Fir
  • Grand Fir
  • Big Leaf Maple
  • Western Red Cedar

Other ways trees are Protected in Saanich

  • Any other tree with a diameter of 60cm or more.
  • Any replacement tree.
  • Any tree over 10cm in diameter or 5m tall located in a Streamside Permit Area.
  • Any tree planted or retained through a subdivision application, development permit or other permit.
  • Significant Trees as listed in the Bylaw.
  • Any tree with evidence of a nest used by raptors, ospreys or herons.
  • Any tree growing on Saanich-owned property.

Trees may also have other forms of protection if registered on the Land Title under a Tree or Natural State Covenant. 

Protected trees in Colwood?

  • Arbutus (2m or greater in height OR 4cm or greater in diameter)
  • Garry Oak (2m or greater in height OR 4cm or greater in diameter)
  • Pacific Dogwood (2m or greater in height OR 4cm or greater in diameter)
  • Pacific Yew (2m or greater in height OR 4cm or greater in diameter)
  • Douglas Fir (30cm diameter or more)
  • Grand Fir (30cm diameter or more)
  • Big Leaf Maple (30cm diameter or more)
  • Western Red Cedar (30cm in diameter or more)


  • any tree greater than 60 centimetres in diameter or more at chest height 
  • a retained tree identified on a tree protection plan
  • a replacement tree identified on a tree replacement plan
  • a wildlife tree (with nesting birds or animals – see the FAQ on this page).

Protected trees in Langford

Langford is the only municipality of 13 in the Capital Regional District without a specific tree-protection bylaw. Earlier in 2022, Langford council rejected a motion to develop a tree-­protection bylaw, saying the city’s development permit ­process is already protecting trees and environmentally ­sensitive areas.

Protected trees in North Saanich

The North Saanich Tree Protection Bylaw, which regulates the cutting, removal or damaging of trees on private property, was adopted in 2002. Since then, North Saanich’s urban forest and the challenges it faces have evolved. The District is reviewing its Tree Protection Bylaw to align with current best practices and conditions, while ensuring its responds to our community values. The review will include establishing requirements for replacing protected trees. 

This new draft bylaws 

  • Significant trees: All trees larger than 60 cm in diameter except cottonwood, red alder and willow
  • Trees in sensitive areas: All trees larger than 10 cm in diameter within the steep slope and environmental development permit areas
  • Protected species: Tree species greater than 10 cm in diameter, including: Arbutus, Garry oak, Pacific dogwood, Pacific yew, and shore pine
  • Replacement trees: Trees planted as a requirement of a tree permit


If you live in Victoria, your best source of more information information on this topic is the What You Need to Know About the New Tree Protection Bylaw PDF, created by the City of Victoria

Reach out

If you are concerned about a tree and think it needs to be removed please contact us and we will arrange an onsite visit to provide a free assessment of the situation and offer you practical advice about the most effective way to move forward.

The Advantage Tree Care team offers a number of tree care and arborist services to residents all over Greater Victoria and Saanich. From tree removals and pruning, to health inspections and emergency tree services, we’ve got you covered.