Australian Legislation for Native Tree Removal on Private Property

Posted on: 10 September 2014

Depending on your location, and the type and size of the tree, you may have to request a permit to fell a tree on your block of land—and in some cases, that request will be denied. Below is a discussion of legislation governing tree removal, followed by a handy summary of state tree protection laws that may potentially affect your tree removal plans.

Native Tree Removal Legislation

The laws governing removal of trees on private property are at a state or local council level. There is currently no national conservation legislation to provide overarching protection of vegetation in residential tree removal activities.

Regulating the removal of native and endangered vegetation is important for the preservation of Australia's flora diversity.  However, there needs to be adequate allowance for tree removal in situations where a tree poses a hazard to humans, wildlife and building structures, or if necessary building developments are hindered by a tree's location.

State Regulations

While vegetation protection legislation may be inconvenient when planning renovations or hazard removal on your private property, such regulations are motivated to preserve native habitats and conserve biodiversity. There are different laws for clearing native trees in rural and urban areas, and these vary depending on the state you live in. What are your state tree removal regulations?

New South Wales

All residential and business-zoned areas in New South Wales are the delegated responsibility of local councils for tree population control. Tree Preservation Orders and Local Environment Plans are employed by local governments to determine and protect significant trees based on their historical, botanical, aboriginal and functional importance. While approval for removal depends on the circumstances, it is probable if the tree is:

  • Dead, damaged or a potential hazard
  • Causing sewer and pipe blockages due to root damage
  • Endangering building structures
  • Posing a threat or nuisance due to overhanging branches
  • In the path of a planned shared fence


Victorian local councils are responsible for the use of Vegetation Protection Overlays, as well as determining and protecting  significant trees in the local area. You will require a planning permit for removal or pruning of native trees in Victoria unless you can qualify for an exemption

Australian Capital Territory

Tree removal in the Australian Capital Territory is the most regulated of all the states, home to the only national tree-specific legislation: the Tree Protection Act 2005. Removal or pruning of registered and regulated trees in the ACT requires approval. You may want to request a tree inspection before making significant plans. You can apply to undertake tree damaging activity by printing, filling out and returning an application form. 

South Australia

You do not require approval in South Australia for:

  • Maintenance pruning activities
  • Removing pest species
  • A tree within 10 metres of a dwelling
  • A tree within 20 metres of a dwelling in a bushfire danger area

If a native tree is removed upon approval, you may be required to plant trees to replace it, and donate to the local council's Urban Tree Fund.

Western Australia

Tree removal regulation is delegated to local government in Western Australia, and while most areas are subject to significant tree registers, you will need to contact your local council for specific guidelines as these can vary greatly between councils.


Local council laws govern tree management in Queensland, and regulations fluctuate depending on your location. You should be able to remove and prune trees not listed as significant landscape trees if they are located within a set distance from a building structure or pose a hazard, and a quick call to your local council will confirm your rights and responsibilities. 

Northern Territory

There is currently no state or local legislation governing the removal of native trees on private property in the Northern Territory, unless a tree is listed on the NT Heritage Register or National Trust significant trees register. 


Tasmanian councils have the delegated responsibility over tree removal activities via planning regulations. As with New South Wales and Western Australia, contacting your local council for specific advice on approval requirements for your specific circumstances is advisable.

Despite the differences between state tree protection regulations, there are two key similarities across all states:

  1. Pruning of protected trees is allowed, if it is beneficial for the tree or for maintenance purposes. But you may still require permission, so check with your local council before you prune.
  2. Species of trees deemed pests are exempt from tree protection regulations.

When you have determined the legality and received permission to remove a tree from your private property, call in your local tree removal experts, such as Northern Tree Service, to get the job done safely, quickly and mess-free.


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