Trees and Urban Forest Management

The City of Burien works with residents and businesses to maximize the aesthetic, environmental, and economic benefits that trees provide by managing, preserving, and enhancing Burien’s existing tree canopy and vegetation.

The City manages major street planting projects and the inspection, pruning, and removal of hazardous trees on public property. The City also provides information and resources to homeowners, businesses, and developers on proper planting and care of trees.

Updated Tree Regulations

During their October 3, 2022 meeting, the Burien City Council adopted new tree regulations to protect trees on private property in Burien. The regulations go into effect on October 12, 2022. While fines will not go into effect until March 1, 2023, the City of Burien will keep a record of violations.

The City of Burien arborist and urban forest planner is available to answer questions on the revised code and tree removal.


Visit the Permit Center for more information about tree permit requirements.

Shorelines, Critical Areas, and Associated Buffers

  • Vegetation Management Plan: A Vegetation Management Plan is required for properties located in a shoreline management area, critical area, or critical area buffer where vegetation is proposed to be disturbed, including tree removalCritical areas subject to vegetation management plan review include geologically hazardous areas, frequently flooded areas, wetlands, and streams. 
  • Tree Pruning Permit: A Tree Pruning Permit is required for properties located in a shoreline management area, critical area, or critical area buffer. Critical areas subject to tree pruning permit review include geologically hazardous areas, frequently flooded areas, wetlands, and streams.

Tree Removal on Private Property

  • Minor Tree Removal Permit: A Minor Tree Removal Permit is required for removing exceptional trees, removing trees in excess of the annual allowance (Table 19.26.060-1), or when tree removal results in a lot below the required tree credits. Additionally, if pruning more than 25% of the canopy or topping the tree a permit is required.
  • Major Tree Removal Permit: A major tree removal permit is required in conjunction with a land use or construction permit and would remove significant or exceptional trees shall be required to obtain a major tree removal permit. The major tree removal permit application shall be submitted and reviewed in conjunction with the associated land use or construction permit.

Green Burien Partnership

In 2018, with funding from the Port of Seattle Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Fund, Forterra began helped the City establish the Green Burien Partnership. The partnership conducted an assessment of current tree canopy cover citywide and forest health conditions in parks and natural areas, conducted community outreach and engagement to guide the development of a 20-year plan for restoring forests and increasing the amount of tree canopy across the three cities. The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department is now leading the implementation of projects and volunteer programs that organize local neighbors and community groups to plant trees, remove invasive plant species, and meet restoration goals.

In 2018, the Burien City Council established an ambitious goal—that Burien’s tree canopy would cover 40 percent of the city by 2038. In 2020, the Burien City Council approved an urban forest stewardship plan that outlines strategies and actions needed to meet that goal.

More Information

The City continues to strive for the goal of balancing development with protecting our urban forests. On July 9, 2020, Ian Gray, ISA-board certified master arborist shared his two decades of experience working as the urban forestry and natural resource manager for the City of Renton and city forester for Aspen, Colorado. Watch a video of the recorded webinar.

Updated October 7, 2022