Imagine waking up to the soothing rustle of leaves in the morning, breathing in the fresh air that trees provide, and basking in the shade of these towering beauties during the scorching summer months. Trees are not only essential for the environment but also add a touch of natural elegance to our surroundings. In Tweed Heads, NSW, where lush landscapes and greenery are cherished, preserving trees and vegetation on private land is of utmost importance. Understanding the regulations for tree removal and the process of obtaining council approval can ensure responsible management of our green spaces.

Overview of Tree Removal Regulations in Tweed Heads, NSW

Tweed Heads, situated in the picturesque Northern Rivers region, boasts an array of stunning trees and vegetation. To protect the natural heritage of this beautiful area, certain trees and vegetation are safeguarded by local regulations. Tree removal, especially in non-rural areas, is subject to council approval. Additionally, specific categories of prescribed vegetation, including local native trees, very large trees, koala feed trees, threatened plant species, and heritage-listed trees, require special consideration.

Understanding Tree Removal Regulations

Overview of Protected Trees and Vegetation

  1. Local Native Trees: Tweed Heads is home to a diverse range of native trees, each contributing to the ecosystem in its unique way. These trees play a crucial role in providing habitat and sustenance for local wildlife, as well as enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the region.
  2. Trees of Historical and Cultural Significance: Some trees in Tweed Heads carry historical or cultural significance, connecting us to the past and symbolizing our heritage. These trees are protected to preserve the stories they hold and their importance to the community.

Categories of Prescribed Vegetation

  1. Local Native Trees: As mentioned earlier, local native trees are part of the protected vegetation and require approval before removal or alteration. Their preservation is vital for maintaining the ecological balance and the wellbeing of the local flora and fauna.
  2. Very Large Trees: Very large trees, irrespective of species, come under special scrutiny when it comes to removal. Their size and significance warrant careful evaluation to ensure responsible management.
  3. Koala Feed Trees: Koalas, the adorable Australian marsupials, rely on specific tree species for their food. Koala feed trees are protected to support the survival of these cuddly creatures.
  4. Threatened Plant Species: Tweed Heads is home to various plant species classified as threatened. Safeguarding these plants is essential for their survival and maintaining the area’s biodiversity.
  5. Heritage-Listed Trees: Trees listed as heritage items have cultural and historical importance. Their preservation helps retain the region’s identity and historical context.

Tree Removal in Non-Rural Areas

If you own property in non-rural areas of Tweed Heads and are considering removing a tree, you will likely need to apply for council approval. The application process involves the following steps:

Lodging an Application

To initiate the tree removal process, you need to submit an application to the local council. The application should include details about the tree or vegetation you wish to remove, the reasons for removal, and your plans for the area after removal.

Fees and Exemptions

In most cases, lodging an application for tree removal on non-rural property is free of charge. However, certain exemptions apply under Schedule 1 of Development Control Plan (DCP) A16. These exemptions are granted based on specific circumstances, such as the type and size of the tree, and whether the removal aligns with responsible environmental practices.

Common Land Use Zones Requiring Approval

The need for council approval may vary based on the land use zone where your property is located. Some common land use zones requiring approval for tree removal include:

  1. Residential Zones: Properties in residential zones often have lush green surroundings, and tree removal in such areas may impact the overall aesthetic and environmental value. As a result, council approval is typically required.
  2. Business Zones: Commercial areas also benefit from green spaces, and tree removal may need careful consideration to maintain the visual appeal and ecological balance of the region.
  3. Industrial Zones: Even in industrial zones, trees often provide numerous benefits, including air quality improvement and noise reduction. Removal in these areas is subject to council approval.
  4. Recreation Zones: Public spaces designated for recreation and leisure activities usually boast abundant vegetation. Any tree removal in these zones requires careful consideration of the impact on the environment and public enjoyment.

Tree Removal in Rural Areas

If your property falls under rural zoning, the process for tree removal may differ slightly from non-rural areas. In rural zones, you may need approval under the Local Land Services Act 2013 for clearing native vegetation. Different rural zones, such as RU1 and RU2, have specific requirements for tree removal, and contacting the Local Land Services can provide more information regarding these regulations.

Furthermore, if tree removal is associated with development consent, additional requirements may apply. Development consent for clearing trees for certain scales of forestry operations in rural areas is necessary.

Exemptions and Special Cases

While council approval is generally required for tree removal in non-rural areas, several exemptions and special cases exist where approval may not be necessary.

Exemptions under Schedule 1 of DCP A16

Schedule 1 of Development Control Plan (DCP) A16 provides a list of exemptions from the application process for tree removal. If your situation aligns with any of these exemptions, you may not need to seek council approval.

Approved Development Applications

In some cases, tree removal may be part of an approved development application. When tree removal is a component of a broader development plan approved by the council, a separate application may not be required.

Other Legislation Overriding the Need for a Permit

Certain circumstances may be governed by other legislation, which may override the need for a permit from the council. However, it’s essential to ensure compliance with all relevant laws.

Specific Requirements for Camphor Laurel Trees

Camphor laurel trees, known for their invasive nature and potential to dominate native flora, require special consideration. A permit is required to remove very large trees of any species in non-rural zones, including camphor laurel trees.

Clearing for Works Under Development Consent

If tree removal is associated with a development application, it’s crucial to include a comprehensive plan in the application. Compliance with the council’s Development Control Plan (DCP) is essential to ensure the removal is carried out responsibly and with minimal impact on the environment.

Addressing impacts on trees and vegetation in development plans demonstrates a commitment to sustainable development and responsible land management. A well-considered plan that outlines tree protection measures and compensatory planting can significantly enhance the chances of obtaining approval.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can the Council Remove a Tree on My Property?

In general, the council does not have the authority to remove trees on private property unless they are considered Prescribed Vegetation under DCP A16. In such cases, a permit for removal or pruning is required.

How Can I Check My Land Use Zone?

To find out the land use zone of your property, you can contact the local council or refer to the council’s website, where you can access zoning maps and other planning information.

Do I Need Council Approval to Remove Small Trees?

The need for council approval is not dependent on the size of the tree. In many cases, even small trees are protected and require approval before removal.

Are There Any Fees Associated with the Application Process?

For most cases in non-rural areas, there are no fees associated with the application process. However, it’s essential to check with the council regarding specific exemptions and any associated charges.

What Is the Process for Removing Heritage-Listed Trees?

The process for removing heritage-listed trees is subject to additional scrutiny and may involve seeking approval from heritage authorities in addition to the local council.

Can I Remove Trees on Neighboring Properties?

Tree removal on neighboring properties is subject to the regulations and approvals applicable to that property. It’s essential to communicate with neighbors and seek clarification on their plans before undertaking any tree removal on shared boundaries.

Who Can Help with Tree Removal on Private Property?

Professional arborists and tree services, like Killick Tree Management, offer assistance with tree removal, tree trimming, and other arboriculture services in Tweed Heads. Our expertise ensures safe and responsible tree management practices.

What If I Need to Clear Trees for Safety or Emergency Reasons?

In case of immediate safety concerns or emergencies, such as hazardous trees that pose a threat to life or property, it’s important to contact the local council or relevant authorities immediately. They can provide guidance on addressing the situation promptly and safely.


The natural beauty of Tweed Heads, NSW, lies in its lush green landscapes and thriving vegetation. Preserving trees and responsible tree management are essential for sustaining the environment and preserving the region’s unique identity. Understanding the regulations and seeking council approval for tree removal when required demonstrates a commitment to preserving the beauty and health of our surroundings.

Killick Tree Management, a reputable tree services company operating in the Tweed Heads and Gold Coast regions, can assist you with all your tree-related needs. Whether you require tree trimming, tree removal, stump grinding, or land clearing, their team of experienced arborists is dedicated to maintaining the beauty and health of your landscape.

As we move forward, let us cherish our trees and continue to embrace responsible tree management to ensure a greener and healthier future for Tweed Heads. Remember, when it comes to trees, the best approach is always to nurture and preserve, and when necessary, seek expert help. Together, we can protect and celebrate the natural wonders that enrich our lives.