The protection guidelines below seek to ensure Ku-ring-gai's tree and vegetation resources are managed sustainably, threatened species and ecological communities are protected and Ku-ring-gai's leafy character is maintained.

What trees or vegetation works do not require approval?

The following seven (7) exemptions may not require an application for a permit for tree and vegetation works from Council. These exemptions do not apply to properties located in Heritage Conservation Areas or where the tree or vegetation includes threatened species or forms part of an Ecological Endangered Community under the BC Act 2016.

Tree branches directly over roof lines

i) removal of tree branches which directly overhang the roof of a residence or commercial building, if pruned back to the nearest branch junction or collar to clear the roofline;

ii) detached garages, carports and ancillary buildings are not included in this exemption.

Trees and other vegetation within 3m of an existing dwelling

i) trees and other vegetation within 3m of any existing dwelling are exempt. The 3m distance is measured from the centre of the trunk of the tree / base of the plant at ground level to the external wall of the dwelling. Provided the owner of the land on which the trunk of the tree is located is in agreement and gives consent prior to the tree works.

ii) trees and other vegetation within 3m of verandahs, carports, detached garages, and ancillary buildings, cantilevered and pier supported structures such as balconies and decks are excluded from this exemption. 

Removal of tree branches near electrical wires

i) removal of branches within 0.5m of electrical service lines to properties. This exemption applies to tree branches only, not tree trunks. 

Minor pruning

i) pruning of trees and other vegetation provided:

-branches pruned, are not more than 50mm in diameter; and

-roots pruned are not more than 50mm in diameter.

Removal of dead wood

i) completely dead branches attached to tree(s) and other vegetation within the property may be removed.

Removal of dead or dying trees and other vegetation

i) removal of completely dead or dying trees and other vegetation provided that prior to any work being carried out.

- Council has advised the applicant of its satisfaction that the subject tree(s) or other vegetation is dead or are dying and is not required as the habitat of native fauna.

Removal of risk to human life or property

i) the removal of tree(s) which is structurally unsound and or unstable, which displays a high degree of hazard, provided that prior to any work being carried out:

- Council has advised the applicant, of its satisfaction that the subject tree(s) is posing an imminent risk to human life or property.

 Note: Pruning must be consistent with the Australian Standard for Pruning of Amenity Trees (AS4373-2007)

Note: Trees (Disputes between Neighbours) Act 2006 may apply

Note: an arborist’s report and testing may be required for significant trees.

Removing or pruning trees on private property

If you’d like to prune or remove a tree on private property, check the guidelines in the following documents first:

Find out which Plan covers my property

If your tree protection guidelines require you to get council permission prior to pruning or removing a tree, submit an application to prune or remove trees on a private property. (pdf. 227KB)

We will consider your application against the Tree assessment Guidelines for Application to prune or remove trees on private property (pdf. 105KB).

Ku-ring-gai also has many heritage items and heritage conservation areas where trees and vegetation are an important aspect of their character. Tree works in such areas, other than works for minor maintenance, may require development consent from Council. 

10/50 vegetation clearing

The 10/50 vegetation clearing rule and Code of Practice has been developed by the NSW Rural Fire Service to permit landowners in certain areas to undertake vegetation clearing on their own land around residential accommodation and high risk facilities to reduce the risk of bush fire. Within these areas, the new laws override our tree protection guidelines (subject to compliance with the 10/50 Code of Practice).

Please note that some trees/vegetation are still protected regardless of the 10/50 vegetation clearing rule and Code of Practice.

Trees on public property

Our tree teams look after public areas such as parks, sportsgrounds, golf courses and nature strips. We prune trees, collect fallen trees/branches, and remove dead or dangerous trees/branches in accordance with Council's Tree Management Policy.

Contact us to request tree maintenance in a public area

Trees in areas under development

To protect significant trees in areas under construction or development, we may establish a Tree Protection Zone. Usually fencing is placed around the trees and remains in place until work has finished.

Without these zones, the health and stability of trees could suffer from damage due to construction-related work, such as excavation or movement of heavy machinery.

Contact us for more information on trees and development

Tree disputes

For information on tree disputes between neighbours view:

Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 

Greenstyle Program

You can learn how to choose and look after native plants and receive gardening advice on what to plant and how to care for your garden.

Greenstyle Program

Related documents

Tree assessment Guidelines for Application to prune or remove trees on private property (pdf. 105KB)

Advice on Choosing an Arborist (pdf. 30KB)

Relevant Legislation

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

The Ku-ring-gai Development Control Plans (DCP) specify 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 2016 (BC Act) and/or the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and approval through the NSW Department of Environment & Heritage or the Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy may be required for clearing or pruning of these species and/or communities.