Protection Toolkit banner - Big Trees April 2013

Heritage and champion tree programs can be good long-term solutions for protecting remarkable trees in your community.

Heritage Tree Programs

Oklahoma City Survivor Tree

Oklahoma City Survivor Tree. Credit: American Forests

Heritage trees encompass an array of unique values that are based on specimen, age, size, aesthetic, historical or horticultural value. Every community has different guidelines when it comes to recognizing heritage trees, but the common purpose of these programs is to encourage proper tree maintenance, increase public awareness, educate property owners and limit the removal of these trees.

Here is a list of heritage tree programs that can be used as models while developing your own:

Champion Tree Programs

Seven Sisters Oak

The beloved Seven Sisters Oak, a national champion big tree. Credit: American Forests

Champion tree programs recognize the biggest trees of different species. Individual champions vary by size, age and growth habitat, so a standard system of measurement and scoring is used. Most programs follow the system used by the American Forests National Big Tree Program. Champion tree programs are active in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and have been used as models for many local big tree programs and several international ones, in places such as Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and South Korea.

To learn more about developing a big tree program in your community, contact American Forests at You can also contact the coordinator of your state program to see if there are groups in your area that have similar programs.