well, locals somewhere
I don't get this one. But it doesn't surprise me.
I don't see where a license should be required to operate a tree removal service. Sounds suspicious to me. Insurance should be enough. It can be dangerous to life and property (mostly to the workers themselves I'd imagine) so this seems like an economic necessity, and I'd imagine if you don't have much training or trained workers it would be harder to get insurance so you wouldn't have any ability to run your business. But leaving that aside, some sort of licensing SOMEWHERE should have been enough.
And never mind that it was volunteer work. That does not matter for the story. I could care less whether he was charging people or not. It still seems like a matter of the state (in this case, the city-state) being somewhere it doesn't need to be.