Dear Neighbors,
Journalist and professor emeritus at USC, Bryce Nelson writes,
" People who will not sustain trees will soon live in a world that will not sustain people .

There are many benefits that come with having a prosperous urban canopy . It has been found that when sitting under a tree, the temperature can feel up to 35 degrees cooler! "Green infrastructure" conserves ecosystems, beautifies our neighborhoods, and reduces the heat island effect. Put simply, we just love our trees!

Today the Miami Beach Commission unanimously voted " YES !" to a new Heritage Tree Ordinance that expands tree preservation in Miami Beach:
  • Creates a Heritage Tree Incentive and Recognition Program to encourage the official designation of specimen trees (or tree groupings) on private property.
  • Requires tree permits and mitigation for the removal of certain prohibited species.
  • Utilizes the more accurate tree trunk diameter measurement instead of tree canopy size as criteria for mitigation.
  • Includes soil volume requirements for newly planted trees to ensure their future health.
  • Increases public notice for public tree removal and relocation.
  • Allows a correction period (in lieu of a direct fine per violation) to encourage owner's to remediate tree violations thereby creating canopy versus paying fines.

Read on below to find out more about the Heritage Tree Program and whether or not you qualify to designate! And if you don't, you may consider participating in the City's Commemorative Tree Program instead!



Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán
The City of Miami Beach Heritage Tree Program
The Heritage Tree Program encourages private property owners to designate their beautiful and historic trees as "Heritage Trees". This designation will preserve our City's green history and legacy!

In order to designate a tree on private property as a Heritage Tree, it must be evaluated by a certified arborist to be in good health and have sound structural integrity while meeting at least one out of the following three criteria:

  1. It is an historic tree or grouping of trees, of notable documented historical significance and value to the City of Miami Beach because of its or their location or historical association with the community. 
  2. It is a tree or grouping of trees with exemplary representation of species’ characteristics and of high value to the community because of its or their species, size, age, location, distinctive form, exceptional characteristics, or ecological value., aesthetic value or other relevant criteria.
  3. It is a champion tree or grouping of trees, defined and identified by the State of Florida Division of Forestry as being the largest of its species within the state or by the American Forestry Association as being the largest of its species in the United States or the world.
County Commissioner Eileen Higgins also recognizes the importance of trees to Miami Beach and is working at the County level to provide additional protections.
Incentives for Property Homeowners
The satisfaction of knowing that your designation is helping to preserve and beautify the City's urban tree canopy is incentive enough. However, when you designate your special tree as a Heritage Tree, you will now qualify for a $750 pruning allowance every four years!

Furthermore , County Variance Fees for designation of heritage trees that are of prohibited species may also be covered by the $30,000 trust fund.

Additionally, the Miami Beach Botanical Garden will bestow upon you a one-year family membership to the garden, and a personalized invitation to future Arbor Day and other special tree-related events!

Lastly, you will receive a brass plaque to visually commemorate your tree's particularity and historic significance to the City of Miami Beach!
The Private Designation Process
In order to designate your tree as a Heritage Tree in the City of Miami Beach, you will need to:

  1. Visit the City of Miami Beach Tree Programs web page to download the Heritage Tree Program Application
  2. Sign, notarize and physically submit the application to the Urban Forestry Division located on the ground floor of City Hall
  3. Wait for the Urban Forestry Division to schedule and carry out a site inspection
  4. Await the official approval of designation communication from the Urban Forestry Division
  5. Receive your designation plaque

For any additional questions on the process, please contact the Urban Forestry Division via e-mail: 
Tree Trimming
Tree trimming is essential for the health of trees and the safety of our residents. However, there are some things you need to know before you do.

Proper pruning is key in developing a tree with a strong structure and desirable form. Arborists specialize in the care of individual trees. They are knowledgeable about the needs of trees and are trained and equipped to provide proper care. it is best to hire an ISA certified arborist or an ASCA registered consulting arborist, since they can determine the type of pruning necessary to improve the health, appearance, and safety of your trees. 

When looking to have your trees pruned consult with your arborist as to what technique would be best for your tree and its location: 

  • Cleaning is the removal of dead, dying, diseased, weakly attached, and low-vigor branches from the crown of a tree.
  • Thinning is selective branch removal to improve structure and to increase light penetration and air movement through the top of the tree. Proper thinning opens the foliage of a tree, reduces weight on heavy limbs, and helps retain the tree’s natural shape.
  • Raising removes the lower branches from a tree to provide clearance for buildings, vehicles, pedestrians, and vistas.
  • Reduction reduces the size of a tree, often for utility line clearance. Compared to topping, reduction helps maintain the form and structural integrity of the tree.

Our City’s tree Ordinance also references proper pruning standards and tree permitting requirements for certain work being proposed. Our Tree Preservation and Protection Ordinance may be found under Sec. 46 division 2 of the city’s ordinances. 

For any additional questions on the process, please visit ??? or contact the Urban Forestry Division via e-mail: 
Inaugural Heritage Tree Designations
The City of Miami Beach will be designating the following champion trees in the inaugural Heritage Tree Designation for the City!
Baobob Trees - Collins Park
Banyan Trees - Bayshore Park
Calophyllum Trees - Meridian Av
Green Buttonwood Tree - 41st St
Green Buttonwood Tree -
72nd St
Seagrape Tree -
North Shore Youth Center
Kapok Tree - Star Island
Ficus Tree - Convention Center
Mahogany Trees -
Convention Center
Banyan Tree - Flamingo Park
Banyan Tree - Flamingo Park
Ficus Trees -
Washington & 2nd St
Commemorative Tree Program
The City of Miami Beach's Commemorative Tree Program created by Commissioner Joy Malakoff provides a unique way for residents and visitors to commemorate a special event, memory, or loved one.

Participants can donate a tree that will contribute to the enhancement of the City’s urban forest, increasing the overall canopy coverage, improving species diversity and increasing the total number of canopy trees planted citywide.

All donated Commemorative trees shall be entered into the City’s OpenTreeMap GIS database , which show the final tree location(s) along with a breakdown of the environmental benefits provided including energy conserved, stormwater filtered, air quality improved, carbon dioxide removed and carbon dioxide stored to date.

To learn more about the program, click here .
Special thanks to my fellow tree-lovers for collaborating on this ordinance and program:
  • Co-Sponsor, Commissioner Joy V.W. Malakoff
  • Mayor Dan Gelber and the entire City Commission
  • County Commissioner Eileen Higgins
  • Assistant City Manager Susanne Torriente
  • Environment and Sustainability Director Elizabeth Wheaton
  • Urban Forester Omar Leon
  • Forestry Field Specialist Harper Martinez
  • City Attorney Nick Kallergis
  • Sandy Shapiro and the Miami Beach Botanical Garden
  • Commission Aides Cilia Maria Ruiz-Paz and Gloria Salom
Moving Miami Beach Forward Together!
Whether you are a Miami Beach resident or a business owner in our community, my office is here to help! Our door is always open, so feel free to stop by or e-mail me at

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John E. Alemán | City of Miami Beach Commissioner | 786-459-7111 |