The law recognizes that trees on private property have special value. So when a tree is destroyed due to the wrongful act of another, the wrongdoer cannot get away with simply paying the property owner for what the tree might have sold for as timber. Rather, at least in some circumstances, the wrongdoer must pay for the costs of replacing the tree with another of the same size. In fact, depending on the case, the wrongdoer may be required to pay the property owner three times the tree’s value.
The law has been interpreted differently by the courts. Some courts will apply the law only when the trees have been wrongfully cut down. Other courts apply the law to trees destroyed as a result of fires. Still other courts require the wrongdoer to pay not just a multiple of the tree’s replacement cost, but to pay for the replacement tree’s installation and aftercare as well.