Tree and Vegetation Management - Private Land

Tree and Vegetation Clearing on Private Land

Information in this section 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.

Under the NSW Government 2017 Biodiversity Law Reforms, Tree and Vegetation Clearing applications which are not part of, or related to, a development application in the Shire are now handled by different agencies depending on the zoning of your property.

Local Land Services (a NSW Government Agency) will handle your application if your property is zoned as Rural.

Council will handle your application if your property is zoned as Non-Rural, including Environmental (E) zoned areas.

Access requirements

Council will undertake an inspection of all trees and vegetation you are applying for. Access must be made available for Council staff. Locked gates, dogs on properties or incorrect site plans will cause delays in your application being reviewed.

Important Information

If you are proposing to remove trees or vegetation as part of, or related to, a Development Application, or located within a Heritage Conservation Area or Heritage Item, please contact Council on 02 4868 0888 to discuss your proposal with the Duty Planner or visit Council's Customer Service Desk or visit the Development Section of our website.

What trees or vegetation require approval prior to removal?

Approvals are required to remove:

  • One or more trees (Exotic and Native); or
  • Patches of native vegetation, including trees and understorey.
Who processes my tree application?

The first step is to find out if it is Council or another Agency who will handle your tree or vegetation removal application.

Use Council’s Tree and Vegetation Clearing Guide Map Tool to locate your property and obtain specific information on who to contact and what application process may be required.


Fact sheets


Tree pruning

Information on this section 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 who to contact and what application process may be required.

This section 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 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.


Neighbouring trees

Does your neighbour's tree hang over your property? Is the tree causing damage to your property?

The first thing to do is talk to your neighbour about any issues you may have in regards to their tree. Council cannot resolve disputes over trees and damage to private property.

It’s important to have as much detail as possible to inform your discussion with your neighbour. This could include an arborist report showing that the tree is causing damage, photographs, videos and quotes for the cost of removal/pruning of the tree and/or the repair of damage.

Under Common Law neighbours have the right to prune the branches of a tree overhanging their property to the property boundary line. If the tree is less than six metres tall, you do not need Council permission to undertake this pruning. If the tree is larger, you will need to lodge a Vegetation Clearing Permit and have it signed by the owner of the property the tree is located on.

Where the tree dispute can’t be resolved, the matter should be referred to the Community Justice Centre for assistance with mediation.

Ph: 1800 990 777 or visit the Community Justice Webpage

If mediation is unsuccessful you may wish to make an application to the NSW Land and Environment Court under the provisions of the Trees (Disputes between Neighbours) Act 2006.