What benefits do trees provide?

    Trees are important for our outdoor spaces and for creating a healthy place for all of us to live in. 

    Trees help to make great places, improve mental health, and increase the number of people being active by providing shade. 

    They reduce carbon pollution in our atmosphere and help slow stormwater flows and reduce the impacts of flooding.

    How does the new policy support urban greening goals for Wollongong?

    We are committed to the planting, protection, management, and maintenance of our urban forest. To realise the benefits provided by trees they must be managed effectively. This policy establishes the principles and framework for tree management in Wollongong and is consistent with our Urban Greening Strategy 2017-37. 

    The main objectives of this policy are to: 

    • Grow tree canopy cover in urban areas using effective tree management practices 
    • Engage the community to plant, value and protect trees in Wollongong Getting more trees in the ground every year will grow the urban forest and benefit everyone in the community.

    Why have we combined the existing tree policies into a single policy?

    Bringing our tree related polices together into a single policy better supports the achievement of our urban greening goals. It creates a consistent approach to the management of trees across public and private land.

    Why have we changed the size of trees that can be removed on private property?

    We’ve changed the height for requiring a tree permit from 3 metres to 5 metres. This is so it’s easier to manage trees on your property. This means you won’t need a permit to tidy up or remove a hedge or large ornamental shrubs. It will also shift the resources from administering permits for small trees to a focus on protecting larger canopy trees. 

    The community has told us there’s too much ‘red tape’ for trees on private property. We sent our customers a survey asking how they felt about the current tree permit process and 86% were unsatisfied. Bringing the current policies together and having a consistent approach to tree pruning and removal on all land types will be fairer for everyone. 

    The change in height is reflected in the update to Chapter E17: Preservation and Management of Trees and Vegetation, of the Wollongong Development Control Plan 2009.   

    Where does the change to tree height apply if I want to remove a tree?

    The tree removal option for trees below 5 metres in height only applies on private property.

    Trees above 5 metres in height and/or 30 cm diameter at the ground are protected and require a permit for removal – unless they are listed as an exempt species.

    In cases where additional environmental or heritage protections apply, trees below 5 metres height may also protected. 

    All trees on Council land are protected and require Council consent for removal.

    There are other Council pathways that can provide permission for trees to be removed, including land development. The diagram below shows the different pathways, including the tree permit application that is covered in the Tree Management Policy. 


    Will trees be managed differently on public and private land?

    We manage trees on public land to ensure the safety of the community. Our arborists use an internationally approved assessment process to check trees in parks and areas of open space are safe. If trees need pruning or removing, we schedule that work to be done. We also respond to community requests to do work. 

    We apply the same assessment process to trees on private property and have a permit system in place where residents can apply to prune or remove a tree. Trees that are 5 metres or more in height or have a diameter of 30cm at ground level will need a permit. There are also some types of trees that don’t need a permit. 

    For routine maintenance pruning on private property there will be self-service information on our website to allow for limited pruning without a permit.

    How will the tree replacement offer work?

    For every tree removed on private property we will require the planting of replacement trees, either on private or public land. Where we permit a tree to be removed, we will offer residents either a: 

    • Greenplan voucher for a tree to be planted on their property if they have space and want to, or 
    • payment of a fee that goes into a greening fund to plant trees on public land in suburbs that need trees the most. 

    The fee will recover the partial cost of a 45-litre tree installed by Council. We will propose the fee as part of Council’s annual fees review in the first quarter of next year. The fee will be set as part of Council’s annual review of fees and charges in the first half of 2023.

    Have you considered financial rewards for reporting tree vandals?

    We take a strong position on unlawful acts of tree vandalism. Vandalism robs the community of the benefits of trees both immediate and unrealised as trees grow. 

    Council has response procedures in place to address tree vandalism proactively and reactively. Council will issue fines where evidence exists and pursues enforcement actions consistent with the Compliance and Enforcement Policy 2022. 

    We have considered the use of rewards for information that leads to fines or court action against tree vandals. But our research found that Councils who have rewards have never had a successful prosecution, such that it is an ineffective measure.

    How will the view impact procedure work?

    A View Assessment Procedure has been developed to prevent conflict around views and proposed tree planting on public land. 

    We will identify surrounding properties that may be impacted by a proposed tree planting. We can test the impact from the proposed planting over time – 0 years, 10 years and 40 years of tree growth. 

    We can use these tests to inform changes to planting designs that mitigate the risk to nearby residents and still provide positive outcomes for the broader community.

    What is a Development Control Plan?

    A Development Control Plan (DCP) is a document prepared by Council which provides detailed planning and design guidelines to support the planning controls in the Wollongong Local Environmental Plan 2009 and State wide rules.

    There are many chapters in the DCP, and each one covers a different type of development.  There are also chapters of the DCP that have specific planning objectives and controls for smaller local areas, like the City Centre, and residential estates.  Many developments will need to meet the rules of more than one DCP chapter.

    Why are we updating the Development Control Plan?

    In 2009 Council prepared and exhibited the Wollongong Development Control Plan (WDCP) to accompany the Wollongong Local Environmental Plan 2009.  On 15 December 2009 Council adopted the WDCP 2009 and it came into force on 3 March 2010.   Periodic review, update and amendment of WDCP 2009 occur as required, to ensure plans continue to be useful and relevant as a policy of Council.

    The clearing of trees and vegetation in NSW and the protection of Biodiversity is regulated by a range of legislation and Council policy, largely linked to the zoning of the land and purpose of clearing.

    A number of legislative and Council strategy and policy changes have occurred that will impact on the management and conservation of trees and vegetation in the Wollongong Local Government Area.  We have updated the relevant Chapters of WDCP 2009 to reflect these changes.  

    To enable the new Tree Management Policy, we propose a change to Chapter E:17 Preservation and Management of Trees and Vegetation, to define that trees 5 metres in height (or greater than 300mm diameter at ground level) require a permit to be removed on private property. 

    What happens to my feedback?

    All feedback provided by the community will be considered by the project team to improve the policy, guidelines and Development Control Plan Chapters. 

    A report to Council will provide a summary of the key issues raised by the community and indicate what changes have been made in response. 

    We will notify you when the report and final policy, guidelines and Development Control Plan Chapters return to Council for adoption.