Trees on private land

Trees

By law, land owners are responsible for preserving certain trees and vegetation on their land. 

Some trees are protected, such as koala food trees.

Trees that are identified as an important part of our history and culture are also protected.

Find out what you need to do before removing a tree or vegetation on your property.  

Tree removal in residential areas

You may need to lodge an application to remove or alter any prescribed vegetation on non-rural property.  

Prescribed vegetation

Protected trees and plants in non-rural areas are called prescribed vegetation. This includes very large trees, koala feed trees, threatened plant species and heritage listed trees. 

For details see 'what type of vegetation are you removing' below.

Prescribed vegetation is declared by:

Do I need approval?

See do I need approval

How to apply

Submit an Application for removal/pruning of trees or vegetation clearing(PDF, 307KB)

There is no fee to lodge this application.

If you have not heard from us within 28 days of lodging your application, your application has been refused. 

Tree removal in rural areas

Clearing of native vegetation in rural areas may need approval under the Local Land Services Act 2013.

Rural areas include:

  • RU1 – Primary Production,
  • RU2 Rural Landscapes 
  • DM – Deferred Matter areas (where not associated with an activity that requires development consent)

Contact Local Land Services on 1300 795 299 or see Local Land Services for more information.

If clearing is associated with an activity that requires development consent see below.

Do I need approval?

Are you in a non-rural zone?

Under SEPP (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 and Council’s DCP A16 you may be required to lodge an application if you are in one of the following common land use zones:

  • Residential Zones (R1, R2, R3, R5 large lot residential, RU5 Village)
  • Business Zones (B1-B7) and Industrial Zones (IN1, IN4)
  • Recreation Zones (RE1, RE2)

See NSW legislation for a full list of non-rural zones.

To check your land use zone, see Tweed LEP mapping or contact us.

If you are in one of the following rural zones/areas, contact Local Land Services on 1300 795 299:

  • Rural Zones (RU1, RU2)
  • Waterway Zones (W1, W2)
  • Deferred Matter Areas 

What type of vegetation are you removing?

If you are proposing to remove vegetation that qualifies as prescribed vegetation under DCP A16, you may be required to lodge an application:

  • Local native trees
    Equal to or greater than 5 m in height
  • Local native vegetation
    (of any height) that occurs as part of a bushland community

An application will always be required to remove the following vegetation. No exemptions apply.

  • Very large trees
    Trunk diameter equal to or greater than 0.8 m (measured at 1.4 m above natural ground level)
  • Primary koala feed trees
    Eucalyptus robusta (Swamp Mahogany), E. tereticornis (Forest Red Gum), E. microcorys (Tallowwood) and E. propinqua (Small-fruited Grey Gum) greater than 5 m in height
  • Threatened plant species, population or community
    Listed under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 or Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
  • Listed significant vegetation
    E.g. Heritage listed tree under Schedule 2 of DCP A16

Exemptions

If any of the following applies you do not need to lodge an application:

  • An exemption under Schedule 1 of DCP A16
  • Works are part of an approved development application
  • Other legislation overrides the need for a permit

Camphor Laurel trees

Although camphor laurel trees are a declared 'noxious weed', you may still need to apply for approval before removing, particularly if the tree is above a certain size or if it is a habitat for native wildlife.

For further advice contact us

Also see managing weeds.

Clearing for works under a development consent

Trees or vegetation that need to be removed as part of works under a development consent must be included in your development application.

For example, clearing associated with construction of a new house (including access roads and house pads). 

(Do not lodge an Application for removal/pruning of trees or vegetation clearing(PDF, 307KB) if the reasons for removal are related to an activity that needs development consent.)

Development applications which propose impacts to trees and vegetation must address (for example):

  • Council's Development Control Plan (DCP A16) Section A16 – Preservation of Trees or Vegetation
  • DCP A19 Biodiversity and Habitat Management
  • Australian Standard AS4970-2009 Protection of Trees on Development Sites. See trees calculator-2 for more information

Trees on neighbouring properties

Council does not have authority to require a property owner to remove a tree on their property (unless it's impacting Council managed public land).

Council cannot become involved in civil disputes about trees on private property unless the trees are Prescribed Vegetation under DCP A16 and a permit is needed for removal or pruning.

It's best to talk to your neighbour if there's a problem. Most people are happy to help, and may not know there's a problem until you chat to them. 

Disputes between neighbours

The Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 provides a way for resolving disputes between neighbours involving trees through the Land and Environment Court.

Under this legislation, residents must first attempt to resolve a dispute through mediation with neighbours before applying to the Court to have their case heard.

Find out more:

  • Community Justice Centre
    The Community Justice Centre (CJC) provides a free mediating service to assist you in coming to an agreement with your neighbour. It is not mandatory for your neighbour to attend the CJC, but most people are willing to discuss the issue with a neutral facilitator to resolve problems and prevent them from escalating any further. Contact 1800 990 777 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) to discuss your situation with the CJC.
  • Legal Answers
    Has a tool kit that has helpful information in regards to neighbourhood issues including tree disputes. Call 1300 888 529.
  • Law Access
    If the issue is still not able to be agreed on the Trees (Disputes between neighbours) Act 2006 allows an owner or an occupier to apply to the Land and Environment Court for an order to remedy, restrain or prevent damage to property or injury to a person as a consequence of a tree on adjoining land.

Before making an order, the Court must be satisfied that the applicant has made a reasonable attempt to reach an agreement with the owner and that the tree has caused, or is likely to cause, injury to person or property.

The Court also needs to consider the location of the tree, historic or cultural significance, its place in the environment, its intrinsic value and its relationship to soil suitability and the water table and whether a Council permit is required and whether or not it would be granted.

The Court has the power to authorise the applicant to take action, authorise the land to be entered, require compensation or costs to be paid or require the replacement of a tree.

Can Council remove a tree on my property for me?

No, Council only manages trees on public land, such as our parks and gardens. We recommend using an experienced, insured and qualified arborist (minimum TAFE Certificate III in arboriculture).