The Tree Trust: Protecting Shared Trees

A landmark court ruling protects shared trees from one co-owner unilaterally destroying them. Save this law from being repealed!

We, Hilary and Stephen Scharper, are professors at the University of Toronto who both love and value trees. In June 2012, our neighbor decided she wanted to get rid of a beautiful and healthy Maple tree whose trunk is growing across both our properties. Without informing us, our neighbor unilaterally obtained a permit to destroy the tree.

We hired certified arborists who established that the Maple was healthy and should not be destroyed. We offered to pay entirely for maintaining the tree, but our neighbor refused. Instead she sued us, claiming full ownership of the tree with the intention to fell it. We hired celebrated enviromental and civl rights lawyer Clayton Ruby to defend us and won our case at Ontario Superior Court.

This is a landmark case for tree preservation.

Until this ruling, the typical practice was for one neighbor to unilaterally cut down a shared tree and deal with the “fall-out” later.

This ruling puts a stop to such practices. It puts legal “teeth” into the protection of our urban forest and beloved backyard trees.

It is the first time that the Ontario Forestry Act has been applied in an urban context. As reported on the front page of the June 19th Globe and Mail, this ruling can potentially save thousands of trees from arbitrary destruction. Thanks to this case, it is now a criminal act if one neighbor injures or cuts down a shared tree without the co-consent of their neighbor. Failure to do so can result in a $20,000 fine or jail time.

Our neighbor, however, is preparing to appeal this decision. The appeal process could lead to the reversal of this landmark ruling.

Thus far, we have spent thousands of dollars of our own money in legal fees, and now need to raise $40,000 to respond to the appeal and defend this ruling.

We ask you to help us by making a donation (no amount is too small!) and/or sharing this campaign with your networks.–2?c=home

Thank you!

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