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Legal requirements for tree removals


As urban dwellers, it is a blessing when we can enjoy the beauty and serenity of Nature around us. To coexist with Nature we need to make conscious and informed decisions in development projects. This will ensure the trees and greenery around built-up areas are protected and only professionals with the expertise and experience can decide when a tree has to be removed.

Making the decision for tree removal

Trees have no say in their removals, but thankfully humans do not have the freedom to take out a tree as and when they wish either.

Port Macquaries Development Control Plan (DCP) provides clear guidance for legal requirements and design considerations related to development projects. Urban planners, developers, property owners and arborists or consulting arborists and all trade work related to professional or qualified tree workers have to consult the Port Macquarie-Hastings Development Control Plan for the latest updates and legal requirements for tree removal.

Trees have the law on their side for their wellbeing.

It is common practice for developers to work closely with arborists to know when and which permits to apply for before beginning any sort of development work. If a tree has to be removed or if the vegetation is to be affected, they consult the local councils on the best way to deal with the tree. The priority is always the preservation of Nature. If push comes to shove and a tree has to be removed, arborists can advise how to minimize collateral damage without disrupting the rest of the vegetation around it.

In order to clear vegetation in developed areas, the Council has to authorize a permit. The Council also takes great care in ensuring that the clearing of vegetation does not upset the balance of the biodiversity of the area. Trees or vegetation that form part of a heritage or which is located in a heritage conservation area are fiercely protected and cannot be touched. The same rule applies to those that form part of an Aboriginal object or that is located in an Aboriginal place of heritage.

When do trees get removed?

Tree removal is considered to be necessary if it is certified to be dying or dead. In this case, the tree itself is usually no longer viable, not even as a habitat for animals. Everything is interconnected and the considerations are complex. Removing a tree or clearing vegetation does not affect only the plant life – the other living organisms may also be affected and their interests and preservation have to be taken into consideration as well.

Tree care could also involve removing some trees to eliminate competition among the greenery. With limited light, space and nutrients, the greenery can become compromised. In such situations, removing some trees would allow others more breathing space to grow well. Experienced professionals can accurately advise property owners which trees need to be removed.

There are natural changes in trees that may cause them to be ill and become dangerous to its setting. A pest infection could make trees structurally unsound. Some trees fall prey to diseases and the process of rotting and decay can cause a tree to become unviable or dangerous if parts start to fall.

Some areas may have noxious trees that are a danger to its environment and the people living in the area. Residential areas or places where there are schools would have problems with these types of trees in the area. An Arborist Report is required to ascertain a tree is noxious. Medical documentation would have to be provided if such trees are causing the residents to be ill or to suffer from severe allergic reactions.

Extreme weather conditions may have battered a tree to the extent that it becomes too weak to sustain itself. Even trees have a limited career span. When a tree has reached its safe useful life expectancy it has to be removed. Leaving a dead or dying tree for too long would increase the difficulty of its removal later on.

In other situations, a tree may have to be removed because of structural issues. A tree may have gotten too big for its current location. The way the tree grows may also cause potential structural problems in the future. Leaving it may cause unnecessary future problems and become a danger to its environment and the people in it. If a tree is a risk to human life or the property around it, the Council may consider its removal to be justified. The way a tree grows can be unpredictable and when the growth causes structural damage to the property around it, the tree has to be removed.

When there is undeniable evidence that a tree is in a place that could potentially cause damage to utilities or services, a specialist would have to be brought in to decide if the removal of the tree is the best option. Sometimes a tree may block certain machinery like a solar heating appliance. A measure as drastic as tree removal may not be necessary if a bit of pruning can solve the problem. An arborist will always opt for the least damaging option for both the tree and the property around it.

Legal requirements for tree removal

Removing a tree is not as easy as turning up with a chainsaw and yelling ´Timber!´. Arborists are experienced in the technical and safety procedures of the removal. Legal compliance is also key to ensure the process is justified and necessary.

To remove a tree, an official application has to be submitted to the local council. A Council officer is sent to inspect the tree or vegetation. If an approval is given, a permit will then be issued.

If a tree is suspected to be dying, have a disease or a noxious species that may be dangerous to the inhabitants of the area, a certified arborist has to be called in to evaluate and submit a report together with an application for its removal. Developers and property owners should be informed that they cannot hire just any person who claims to have experience with trees. Ask for a specialist with a minimum qualification of AQF level 5 in a Diploma Horticulture (Arboriculture).

The law is harsh on people who do not adhere to the regulations. Removal of trees without the authorization of the Council could land one with a nasty prosecution case as well as fines of up to $110,000. Needless to say, tree clearing and logging are illegal and the Office of Environment and Heritage are always on the alert to prevent such atrocities.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council understands the community´s increasing concern for the care and protection of greenery in the area. Between the urban developers, arborists and the Council, there is clear communication and a strong, supportive network to ensure Nature is protected. The ultimate goal is for everyone to live in and enjoy the benefits of a natural environment.

About Accomplished Tree Management: Tel 0411 443 535

Accomplished Tree Management is based in Port Macquarie and services the Mid North Coast. With over 16 years experience, we employ safe work methods and are certified with Australian AS 4373-2007-Pruning of Amenity Trees standards. We're fully insured with $20 million Public Liability and $1 million Professional Indemnity Insurance.

We provide the following tree services -

  • Tree management - tree removals, palm tree services, council permits

  • Tree and garden maintenance - hedging, pruning, deadwooding, stump grinding

  • Tree consultation - arboricultural reports, hazard assessment

Responsibility in Tree Removals is written by Vermilion Pinstripes, a sales marketing and communications agency based in Port Macquarie helping businesses build brand confidence.

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Accomplished Tree Management is a tree services company based in Port Macquarie, servicing the Mid North Coast