Mangrove Tree Pruning Laws

What you need to know hazardous trees

Mangroves are tropical trees and shrubs that grow in intertidal areas. They are protected in Florida by the Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act. Always check with local authorities before trimming mangrove trees, or you could be subject to huge fines totaling thousands of dollars.

In Pinellas County there are three types of Mangroves; white mangrove, black mangrove and red mangrove. Buttonwoods sometimes grow with mangroves and like mangroves, they are considered protected species in Pinellas County.

Mangrove Tree Benefits
Mangroves offer many benefits to Florida residents. They help control erosion of our shoreline, protect homes from storms, provide both food and nursery areas for marine life and offer nesting areas for coastal birds.

Why Mangroves Are Protected
Development of coastal areas had taken a big toll on the mangrove population, until the Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act was made law in Florida, in 1996. Before the law was passed, Florida lost an estimated 86% of its mangroves. As such, there are now strict guidelines on the trimming of mangroves.

Trimming Criteria For Mangroves
Before making plans to trim your mangroves, it’s important to become familiar with the Pinellas County guidelines. They include the following:

  • Mangroves cannot be trimmed to a height less than six feet.
  • If they are over 10 feet tall, mangroves must be trimmed by a Professional Mangrove Trimmer (PMT).
  • Professional Mangrove Trimmers must notify the Florida Department of Environmental Protection whenever they plan to trim mangroves and the PMT must be on site when the trimming is undertaken.
  • If mangroves are over sixteen feet tall, PMTs are restricted from removing more than 25% of the growth during the annual cutting.
  • No herbicides or chemicals of any kind can be used on mangroves.

  • Trimming Permits
    Unless you qualify for an exemption, you must obtain a permit to trim your own mangroves. You can obtain a permit, as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • No mangroves can be trimmed in the months of December, January or February.
  • Mangroves need to be less than 500 feet in depth.
  • Only 65% of your mangroves can be trimmed annually and 25% of these trimmed mangroves that are over 16 feet tall, must have their canopies left in tact.
  • After the trimming process, all mangrove “tree debris” must be removed from the site.

  • Help Is Available
    If you have mangroves that need to be trimmed and you are unsure about the Pinellas County laws that protect mangroves, help is available. Contact a professional mangrove trimmer or the Florida Department of Environmental Management at 727-464-4761 and online at

    Jon Wilbur is an ISA Certified Arborist and co-owner of Pinellas Tree Service, in Clearwater.

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    Copyright, 2005, All Rights Reserved

    Jon Wilbur