A number of residents of Glastonbury Avenue in the north of the city refused to let Roads Service cut it down last month following concerns over protruding roots damaging the footpath.
They say they are relieved the 150-year-old beech tree, which is located close to the junction of Glastonbury Avenue and Antrim Road, has now been granted a six-month stay of execution.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood stepped in with a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), which was served on 14 December to safeguard the 40ft tree "for its widespread public amenity value".
Mr Attwood described it as a "very fine mature beech tree".
"I became aware of local concern regarding the future of the tree towards the end of November and instructed that the decision was progressed quickly," the SDLP minister said on Sunday.
"The tree is the oldest and tallest street tree in Belfast and, whilst street trees are generally well cared for by Belfast City Council on behalf of DRD Roads Service, I opted for a precautionary approach in this instance," Mr Attwood added.
"The Department now has six months to decide whether or not to confirm the TPO."