The tree preservation order is one of only two legal mechanisms in place for the protection of trees, the other being a Felling Licence established under the 1946 Forestry Act. Trees that are subject to a preservation order cannot be felled unless the owner applies for planning permission to the local authority.
The decision can be appealed to An Bord Pleanala. A TPO can be made on a single tree, group of trees or woodland. Tree Preservation Orders are not granted to protect ecological value but if there is a special amenity value present.
The 1963 Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, section 45 provided for the making of tree preservation orders by the planning authority where it is considered desirable to preserve trees on amenity grounds. This act was amended by the 1976 Planning Act, Section 14, which was amended by the 1992 Planning Act Section 20 which was further amended by the 2000 Planning Act which outlined the legal framework and procedures to make a TPO.
This order will prevent their cutting down, topping, lopping or wilful destruction without the specific consent of the local authority. The authority has planning control over tree felling or any interference with designated trees.
By 1996 there was 178 Tree Preservation Orders made in the Republic of Ireland some local authorities granted numerous orders (County Meath) while others viewed the designation as being ineffective and so granted no TPOs (County Clare).