Information about the pruning and removal of trees on private and public land

Council has a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) that is designed to make sure we retain healthy and potentially significant trees in our community.

The TPO means that you must apply for consent to remove or prune trees. You can apply to prune or remove a tree by filling out an application form and paying a small fee.

What is defined as a tree?

When discussing trees in this context, anything that meets one of the following three criteria is classified a tree:

  • Higher than 5m.
  • A canopy wider than 4m.
  • A trunk circumference (at 1m high) of greater 500mm.

Trees on private property

As well as trees on your property, we can also give permission to prune encroaching branches from a neighbouring property. If you live within a town or village area, it is likely that your property is covered by the TPO.

The TPO does not apply to land that is contained within the following zones of the Lismore LEP 2012, however, consent from another authority may apply.

RU1 – Primary Production
RU2 – Rural Landscape
RU3 – Forestry
R5 – Large Lot Residential
E2 – Environmental Conservation
E3 – Environmental Conservation
W1 – Natural Waterways

To apply for consent, download the Tree Pruning/Removal Application Form. If you live in a Heritage Conservation Area, you must lodge a development application as well as submitting the above form.

Are all trees protected by the TPO?

No. Fruit trees, noxious and environmental weeds are all exempt. You can find the list of exempt environmental weeds from Far North Coast Weeds and noxious weeds from the Department of Primary Industries.

Can I prune my trees?

Trees pruned inappropriately may become sick, diseased or at times potentially unsafe. Pruning without Council consent is therefore only permitted when completed by a suitably qualified arborist to the Australian standards for pruning.

Can I prune my neighbour's trees?

Your neighbour's trees can only be pruned if you have consent. You can apply to prune roots and overhanging branches of your neighbour's trees if they are causing damage to your property or are likely to. Firstly, go and have a chat to your neighbour and see if you can work the issue out together.

What conditions apply to removing and pruning trees?

Generally, new trees have to be planted at a ratio of two new trees for each tree removed.

It is recommended that trees are removed or pruned by a qualified and fully insured arborist. This ensures the best result for the tree.

What penalties apply?

Penalties for pruning or removing a tree or trees are severe. A $1500 on-the-spot fine can be issued or more serious cases can be taken to the Land and Environment Court, where a much larger penalty is likely.

Council can also ask for new tree planting or remedial pruning.

Trees on public land

If you have any enquiry about trees on public land you should call us on 1300 87 83 87. This includes street trees, bushland trees and trees located within parks and reserves.

For more information read the Development Control Plan Chapter 14.