In one sense, you own the trees on your property, but not in the same way that you own your car or your TV. If you get sick of those items you can discard them at will and no one can stop you, but the same is not true with tree removal.
To remove a tree on your property you will almost always need to seek permission from your local council. This is because trees are a public resource, providing benefits to the entire community they live in – and native or endangered trees may be part of our ecological heritage and essential to local fauna.
The Benefits of Trees
The reason trees are protected in Australia is because of what’s lost when even a single tree is cut down. Some of the benefits trees bring to a community include:
- Trees absorb a large volume of carbon dioxide annually, making them important allies in the fight against climate change.
- One of the reasons trees are often planted along roads is their capacity to clean the air by absorbing airborne pollutants and filtering particulate matter out of the air.
- By providing shade and releasing water vapour into the air, trees cool our communities – making life more comfortable, reducing exposure to UV rays, and cutting energy use by easing the need for air conditioning.
- The strong roots of trees slow or prevent soil erosion.
- There is strong evidence that trees and other greenery are good for our mental health, encourage good health and fast healing, and can aid productivity by reducing mental fatigue. Some studies have even shown lower rates of violent crime in areas richly populated with trees.
- Trees – especially native species – also form an invaluable part of Australia’s delicate ecosystem, providing habitats and resources for native birds and other animals.
Always Seek Permission
Every council will have slightly different regulations. In Newcastle, you can remove trees without permission only if:
- The tree is within three metres of the wall of your house (not including garages, pergolas, and so on).
- The tree has a chest-height circumference of no more than 45 cm for single trunk trees and 30 cm for multi-trunk trees.
- If the tree is dead and not providing a habitat for hollow-dwelling fauna.
If your tree doesn’t meet these conditions, or if you’re unsure, you’ll need to get council permission. Applying doesn’t cost much, but failing to can – fines range from a $3,000 on-the-spot fine to a $1.1 million penalty from the land and environment court.
Conditions for Tree Removal or Pruning
Even once you get permission, you can’t just cut down trees any way you like. To ensure safety and an environmentally friendly tree removal, you’ll need to comply with the following rules.
Get an Arborist’s Report
Whether you are pruning or removing a tree, you will need a qualified arborist’s report. This confirms that a proper tree inspection has been carried out.
Proper Waste Disposal
You need to dispose of all green waste from the tree removal or pruning responsibly. Simply dumping it on public land can incur heavy fines.
Get the Job Done Right
Both pruning and tree removal must be carried out by properly trained and qualified arborists. Tree maintenance professionals will ensure the job meets council requirements for safety and eco-friendly practices, and will stop bad techniques such as tree lopping and topping from being practiced.
For qualified tree removal around Newcastle, contact JK Cooper Tree Services.