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What trees can be cut down without permission in Australia? Which trees are protected? What is the fine for illegal tree removal in Australia?

Professional Lumberjack Cutting a big Tree in the Forest during the Winter

You’d think that when it comes to tree removal on your very own property, you’d have the freedom to do whatever you like. However, contrary to common knowledge, there are in fact several tree species that are protected by law in Australia – which means if you remove them without permission, you may be subject to a financial penalty (or worse). 

But don’t worry. This isn’t a sneaky government scheme intended to rob people; certain trees are protected for a very good reason – namely preserving our stunning natural environment and promoting biodiversity.  

In this article, we’re going to explore the rules surrounding tree removal in Australia, including which tree species can be cut down freely without permission, the trees that are protected and require special permissions, the fines for illegal tree removal, and more. 

Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know…

Can you remove any trees from your property in Australia?

Generally speaking, you have the right to freely remove trees from your property for any reason, as long as they are not protected or subject to specific regulations.

However, it’s essential to check first with your local council or relevant authority to ensure compliance with any specific rules or restrictions in your area.

Alternatively, you can speak with your local arborists as they will be able to let you know whether the tree in question is OK to remove without restriction, or if it is a protected species. 

Again, the chances are you’ll be fine, but it is always worth double-checking to be on the safe side! Tree removal isn’t the cheapest service, so the last thing you want is to end up with a hefty fine from the government on top. 

Two male service workers cutting down big tree branches with chainsaw from high chair lift platform.

What tree species can be cut down without permission in Australia?

So, what tree species can be cut down without permission in Australia? 

In Australia, the regulations regarding tree removal varies between different states and territories. Again, you’ll want to double-check with your local authorities to be sure. 

Most common tree species can be cut down without permission, including non-native or invasive species such as pine trees, yucca trees, and Japanese pepper trees.

That being said, it’s important to note that even for these specific species, certain local regulations or restrictions may apply, so take a moment to double-check before ripping the cord on that chainsaw! 

Which trees are protected species and need special permissions to be removed?

Rather than asking which trees can be cut down freely, it will be much easier to narrow down which trees cannot be removed. 

Many native tree species in Australia are protected, and their removal from your property will require special permission.

Flame of the forest (Butea monosperma) in full bloom in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Coral Tree

A good place to start is by looking at the ACT Tree Register. In any case, here’s a closer look at each territory and some of their protected tree species, for your reference:

  • New South Wales – Protected Tree Species: 
    • Coral Tree.
    • Camphor Laurel.
    • Chinese Nettle Tree.
  • South Australia – Protected Tree Species:
    • Jacaranda.
    • Sugar Gum.
    • Any native species (including Kauri and Totara).
  • Western Australia – Protected Tree Species: 
    • Tuarts.
    • Garry Oaks.
    • Moreton Bay Figs. 
  • Northern Territory – Protected Tree Species (see Significant Tree Register): 
    • Boab.
    • Banyan.
    • Paperbarks.
  • Victoria – Protected Tree Species: 
    • Acacia.
    • Paperbarks.
    • Eucalyptus trees. 
  • Tasmania – Protected Tree Species (see State’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment):
    • Black Gum.
    • Stuart’s Heath.
    • Morisby’s Gum.

 

Please note that this isn’t a comprehensive list. Just because your tree isn’t listed here, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t on the protected list. Again, contact your local council if you are unsure. 

You may have also noticed that removing a Eucalyptus tree is fine in Western Australia, but banned in Victoria. This is why you should always double-check before taking action. 

What is the fine for illegal tree removal in Australia?

Again, the fines for illegal tree removal will vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the offence.

Fines can range anywhere from hundreds, to thousands of dollars, and in some cases legal action may be pursued, leading to further penalties or even imprisonment (in rare cases).

It’s crucial to respect the regulations and obtain the necessary permissions before removing any protected trees from your property. Don’t take any unnecessary risks! 

Banyan Tree
Banyan Tree

 

What is the best way to identify an unknown tree species in my garden?

Identifying an unknown tree species in your garden can be challenging, but not impossible. Here are a few tips to help you: 

  • Start by observing the tree’s characteristics such as its leaves, bark, shape, and overall size.
  • Utilise the many online resources available, or consult with your local arborists or horticultural experts who will gladly assist you in its identification.
  • Just make sure you share clear photographs of the tree with the experts so they can quickly and accurately identify the tree species for you. 

What do I do if a protected tree species on my property becomes a potential health hazard for my family?

You may be wondering, what do you do if a protected tree species on your property has become dangerous and poses a serious health hazard to your family? Here’s what you should do: 

  • If a protected tree on your property poses a potential health hazard, the first step is to contact your local council or relevant authority immediately. 
  • They will assess the situation and provide guidance on the necessary steps to address/alleviate the hazard.
  • Depending on the circumstances, they may grant you permission for the tree’s removal or suggest alternative solutions, such as pruning or managing the risk.

Conclusion

Understanding the rules and regulations surrounding tree removal in Australia is crucial to ensure legal compliance and to protect yourself from potential fines or legal issues. 

While some tree species can indeed be freely cut down without permission, it’s important to double-check any local regulations as they may vary. 

Remember, protected tree species require special permissions, and removal without authorisation can and does result in substantial fines. 

We understand how frustrating it can be if you want to get rid of a tree on your property but cannot. Just remember that these trees are protected for a very good reason, and that preserving our natural environment is paramount. 

If you are in Perth and unsure about a tree on your property – or if you’ve established that your tree is OK to remove and need professional assistance, please feel free to contact us today. We’re always happy to help!

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