Tree Pruning


Information on this page is accurate at the time of publishing, however is subject to change as further information becomes available on the processes and responsibilities under the NSW Biodiversity Law Reforms.

Have you Checked?

Before proceeding to use the information on this page, you MUST have confirmed that Council is the agency who will handle your application.

If you have not confirmed this, check the Tree and Vegetation Clearing on Private Land page for details on who to contact and what application process may be required.

This page provides you with information on pruning trees and if you require to obtain a permit to do so on your property.

What "Pruning" Works are PROHIBITED and Will Not Be Considered for Approval by Council?


This means cutting away part or all of a tree’s foliage crown leaving a trunk and stubbed main branches to reduce its height and spread. Council’s considers this to be an antiquated practice which damages a tree, reducing strength and vigour and promoting its premature decline.


This means cutting between branch unions or at internodes on any tree, with the final cut leaving a stub. This does not include “lopping” where this is solely for the purpose of feeding stock in an officially drought declared area, provided the vegetation’s continued health is not affected.



What "Pruning" is EXEMPT from requiring a Council Permit?

The Macquarie Dictionary defines ‘pruning’ as “cutting or lopping superfluous or undesirable twigs, branches or roots from, to trim”.

This definition suggests that ‘pruning’ is a form of ‘lopping’, but the difference between the two is a matter of degree and judgement. 

The terms ‘twigs’, ‘branches’ and ‘trim’ imply ‘modest lopping’, while the terms ‘superfluous’ or ‘undesirable’ imply some professional knowledge of tree structure and growth patterns.

Council Considers "pruning", as described below, as being works of a "minor nature" and DOES NOT require a permit

a) removing branches or other growth as part of the natural cultivation of the tree or plant, such a pruning roses, hydrangeas, fruit trees and vines, maintaining hedges or mowing of grass.  


b) removing branches or other growth which has suffered storm, wind or similar damage. 


c) removing branches or other growth which is decayed and threatens the viability of the tree.


d) removing branches or other growth in order to allow a planting up to four (4) metres in height to develop a stronger growth habit.


e) removing branches or other growth from planting greater than four (4) metres in height, which will, in the opinion of a minimum AQF Level 3 professional Arborist, protect or enhance the growth and habit of that planting. 

That professional opinion shall be obtained in writing and be available for Council perusal if requested.

Important Note

The burden of proof in proving that any ‘pruning’ brought to the attention of Council complies with the above definition shall lie with the property owner or Arborist undertaking the work. 

Pruning is most likely to be investigated by Council following the lodging of a complaint and generally applies to the removal of branches from larger or older trees.

What "Pruning" Requires a Council Permit?

You will be required to apply to Council for a Vegetation Clearing Permit for any "pruning" which is not described in point (a) to (e) above.

This includes the following works which are considered by Council to be "major works" on trees consistent with Australian Standard AS4373-2007 – Pruning for Amenity Trees:

Selective pruning   The removal of identified or specified branches  
Pollarding A specialised pruning technique that establishes branches ending in a pollard head of buds and vigorous shoots. In Wingecarribee Shire, requirement for approval applies to established trees which may not been pollarded previously.
Crown modification  Pruning that changes the form and habit of a tree.
Coppicing The cutting of a trunk close to the ground in order to stimulate the production of epicormic shoots.
Codominant branch or trunk removal Stems or trunks of about the same size originating from the same position from the main stem on semi-mature or older trees. 
 Crown lifting  The removal of the lower branches. In Wingecarribee Shire, this applies to any first order lateral branches on semi-mature or older trees.