Trees on private property

Do you have trees, shrubs or bushland on your property? Ku-ring-gai is renowned for its tree-lined streets. This is a key part of our urban forest and needs to be nurtured. Find out what you need to know about managing trees on private property here.

Your questions answered

Pruning and removing trees on private property

Trees and vegetation are protected under legislation. The State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in Non-Rural Areas) 2017 prescribes that tree removal or pruning are to be processed using a permit system administered by Council through its Development Control Plan (DCP).

Council's Tree and Vegetation DCP specifies the guidelines for protecting trees and vegetation including when Council permission is required for pruning or removing a tree and when exemptions to Council's DCP apply.

Additionally, threatened species or components of threatened ecological communities are protected under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act (BC Act) and/or the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and approval through the NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment (DPIE) may be required for pruning or removal of these species or communities.

Tree and Vegetation DCP Part 13(PDF, 290KB)

A Tree Application form is required to be completed and submitted to Council for all works on trees or other vegetation where an exemption does not apply.

Tree application

To obtain Council permission before pruning or removing a tree, you will need to submit a Tree Application Form(PDF, 326KB)

A tree application form MUST be submitted for trees growing:

  • On a heritage property.
  • In a heritage conservation area.
  • Where the tree includes threatened species or forms part of an ecological endangered community.

No exemptions apply for these properties.

Tree assessment guidelines 

Council will consider your application against the tree assessment guidelines:

View Tree Assessment Guidelines to Prune or Remove Trees on Private Property and Council Managed Land(PDF, 127KB)

The above tree assessment guidelines are translated below:

View Traditional Chinese Tree Assessment Guidelines to Prune or Remove Trees on Private Property and Council Managed Land(PDF, 604KB)

View Simplified Chinese Tree Assessment Guidelines to Prune or Remove Trees on Private Property and Council Managed Land(PDF, 600KB)

View Korean Tree Assessment Guidelines to Prune or Remove Trees on Private Property and Council Managed Land(PDF, 583KB)

Council’s Urban Forest Policy and Assessment Guidelines require tree work decisions to have a focus on retaining and protecting trees unless there is strong justification for removal. It is important that applicants read the Assessment Guidelines that detail criteria that is not generally considered justification for pruning and removal prior to finalising the decision to lodge a Tree Application Form.

Rural Fire Service 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) developed the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code of Practice to allow landowners in certain areas to undertake vegetation clearing on their own land around residential property to reduce the risk of bush fire. Within these areas, the Code overrides Council’s DCP (subject to compliance with the RFS 10/50 Code of Practice), however the exemption does not apply to some properties that are mapped within a 10/50 area.

Please note some trees/vegetation are still protected & require a Council permit regardless of the 10/50 Vegetation Code of Practice including trees:

  • On a heritage property.
  • In a heritage conservation area.
  • Where the tree includes threatened species or forms part of an Ecological Endangered Community.

In these cases, a Tree Application Form is required to be lodged to apply for Council consent to undertake pruning or removal.

Check the NSW Rural Fire Service website online tool to determine your eligibility

For further information refer to the Rural Fire Service 10/50 Frequently Asked Questions

Trees in properties under development

The Tree Application Form is not the correct process to apply for tree works directly related to Development Applications or Complying Development. Please contact the Customer Service Centre to make an appointment with the Council’s Duty Planner. 

Contact us for more information on trees and development

Tree disputes between neighbours (Trees Act 2006)

Residents often contact Council to request assistance with concerns with trees located on a neighbouring property. 

Council suggests that you discuss your concerns with the neighbouring property owner and request the property owner take action to mitigate detrimental impacts to your property. Council permission is required before any work takes place.

The tree owner is required to obtain Council's permission before undertaking works on the tree. If the tree owner does not undertake works on the tree you are advised that Council is not the appropriate authority to resolve this problem and you should seek mediation at a Community Justice Centre.

Should mediation not resolve the your concerns you should seek advice from the Land and Environment Court NSW. 

Legislation titled Trees Act 2006 (Disputes between Neighbours) has been specifically created to enable the Land and Environment Court to adjudicate where a tree on an adjoining land might cause damage or injury to neighbours or to the neighbouring property. However the Court cannot make an order unless it is satisfied you have made a reasonable effort to resolve the matter with the owner of the land on which the tree is situated.

Lodging an application to the Land and Environment Court does not require legal representation and the lodgement fee to the Court is minimal. The applicant completes the form and pays the fee, attaching any supporting documentation including correspondence that demonstrates to the Court the attempts made to contact the neighbouring property owner to discuss the trees to resolve your concerns.

When the Court receives the application, the Court Commissioner will attend the property to inspect the trees and make a judgement.

For information on support that the NSW Land and Environment Court can provide with trees on neighbouring properties, refer to the NSW Land and Environment Court website.

Finding a consulting arborist or tree contractor

If you need advice on your trees, contact a Consulting Arborist that is a member of the Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists (IACA). The consulting arborist will inspect the tree and provide advice on the health of your trees. A consulting arborist can undertake a ground based visual inspection of the tree or use diagnostic testing to provide you with a report detailing management options.

To ensure the Arborist Report is accepted by Council and considered as part of your Tree Application assessment, the report must be compiled in accordance with Councils Guidelines for Preparation of Arborist Reports(PDF, 247KB). Ensure you provide a copy of the Guidelines document to the consulting Arborist.

Contact a professional Tree Work Contractor who is a member of the Tree Contractors Association to ensure a fully qualified and insured tree contractor undertakes works on your tree.

Before engaging a Tree Contractor to undertake works please read the Advice on Choosing a Tree Contractor(PDF, 186KB) and advice from Safe Work NSW on engaging a professional Tree Contractor(PDF, 341KB).

Related documents

Urban Forest Policy(PDF, 657KB)

Guidelines for Preparation of Arborist Reports(PDF, 247KB)

Tree Replacement Planting Tree Species List - Tree Applications(PDF, 352KB)