Tree Removal Regulations in Brisbane

Exploring Brisbane City Council’s Tree Preservation Policies

Lush greenery is an iconic part of Brisbane’s identity as a clean, green city. However, trees on private property can sometimes pose issues for residents. Brisbane City Council aims to protect the urban canopy while allowing reasonable tree management on private land. Also, rules exist governing activities like tree removal. Understanding key regulations helps homeowners navigate this process smoothly.

Key Takeaways

  • Council in Brisbane city aims to protect green canopy cover while allowing residents reasonable rights to manage them on their property
  • Council approval is required before removing or tampering with trees over a certain size
  • Indeed, fines apply for removing them without consent or damaging protected trees
  • Applications for removal of tree or pruning are assessed on criteria like the tree’s health, public safety risk, and environmental impact
  • Residents can apply to remove or prune trees they believe are causing damage or posing unreasonable danger

Which Trees Are Protected by the Council?

Brisbane City Council’s Tree Register lists all trees under Council ownership or control. This includes trees in parks and reserves.

These cannot be removed or significantly pruned without Council’s consent. Strong penalties including large fines can apply for damage to Council-owned trees. Also, there are certain types within our NALL where you won’t need permission for removal. For example, pests like Camphor Laurel or problem-causing species such as Rubber Trees.

The Council also protects certain trees on private land through local law regulations and planning controls.

  • Remove, prune or interfere with native trees over 5 metres tall
  • Remove, prune or interfere with non-native over 10 metres tall

There are some exceptions – for example permission is not needed to remove dangerous, diseased or dying trees which pose a clear, imminent risk to safety or buildings. However it’s advisable to consult with the Council first before removing any substantial tree from your property and they will provide the types of permit you needed..

Assessing Applications for Removal or Pruning

When a resident applies for permission to remove or prune a tree that is protected, Brisbane City Council will thoroughly assess the application against criteria including:

  • The tree’s health, structure and life expectancy
  • Whether the tree poses a material risk to public or personal safety
  • The environmental and amenity value of the tree
  • Whether the tree is causing substantial damage to buildings, infrastructure or services
  • Whether reasonable pruning could mitigate problems without necessitating removal

Can I Appeal Against a Council Decision?

If an application for removal or pruning is declined, the resident can submit an appeal accompanied by additional supporting evidence to show why the decision should be reviewed. This may prompt reconsideration of the initial decision.

Consequences for Breaching Tree Regulations

Brisbane residents must comply with government Council decisions regarding protected trees. Carrying out unauthorised removal or interference can lead to legal action including financial penalties of up to 166 penalty units (around $22,000 as of 2023). The council protects certain types of trees within their Vegetation Protection Order (VPO) heavily restricting removal without permission.

If someone damages a tree causing its death or permanent serious harm, the Council may also push for replacement planting and restoration costs in addition to fines. Also, cases of deliberate disregard for tree protection laws may be prosecuted more aggressively.

That said, the Council aims to take an educational approach where possible when residents unintentionally breach regulations. For example, providing warnings and advice to prevent future issues, rather than jumping straight to harsh legal consequences.

How to Work Positively With Council on Tree Issues

To streamline dealings with the Council over removal authorization or related issues on your property, some tips include:

  • Gather evidence like photos and arborist reports to support removal applications
  • Get professional pest control second opinions if the Council declines your application
  • Consider compromise solutions like minor pruning before pursuing removal
  • Familiarise yourself with Brisbane’s Tree Management Code to understand assessment criteria
  • Engage politely and cooperatively with Council officers. An adversarial approach may not help your application.


As a property owner, do I need permission for minor tree trimming?

No, general pruning and maintenance of a private tree does not require council consent.

How do I apply for a permit to remove a landscape tree on my private property?

Submit an online form or contact the council to apply for a property permit, specifying details on the individual tree and reasons for removal.

If the council declines my development application, can I challenge based on improving views or installing a pool?

Development approval primarily considers land use factors. Personal improvements like a view or a pool typically hold less weight than heritage values or native vegetation management plans.


Brisbane City Queensland Council aims to take a balanced approach to tree management. Preserving the urban forest while allowing residents reasonable rights regarding risks to property, pedestrian safety, and use of land needs. With evidence-based applications and positive communication, approval for tree removal is often possible for valid cases. Understanding the assessment criteria helps smooth the process for all.