Council Tree Removal Regulations in Sutherland Shire

arborists assessing the situation prior to removal of large tree

In June 2017, the Sutherland Shire Council relaxed some of its tree removal regulations to allow private property owners more control over the vegetation on their property. These new regulations walk a fine line between protecting both the area’s magnificent canopy and its residents’ properties.

Council advised residents to familiarise themselves with the new statutes to make sure any planned landscape changes will comply with the rules. Here’s a rundown:

Identify Protected Trees

Protected trees are those necessary to maintain the region’s delicate canopy and remaining natural vegetation. They include:

1. Trees with large diameters: Single or multi-trunked trees that have diameters of 100 millimetres or more at a location at 500 millimetres above ground level fall under this category.

2. Bushland vegetation: Council defines bushland vegetation as a) any remnant of the land’s natural vegetation, including mangroves and b) altered vegetation that represents the structure and flora of the area’s natural vegetation. According to the statute, this applies to all herbaceous species, shrubs, and trees of every size.

3. Trees near creeks or watercourses: Trees that are growing within four metres of watercourses remain under protection. These trees prevent erosion, which can affect not only the Shire, but also areas downstream as well.

arborist pruning cocos palm tree

Know What You Can Prune or Remove without Council Approval


On private property, you do not need approval to do the following:

  • Prune 10 percent or less of the tree canopy, but only once during a calendar year
  • Prune a branch that extends over a residence’s roof to the gutter line

Specific Species Allowed without Permission

Council has provided a list of other trees that you may remove without Council’s permission. Make sure, though, that the tree is not of heritage significance before you remove it. These include:

  • Queensland Silver Wattle
  • Golden wreath wattle
  • Box elder
  • Bunya Bunya Pine
  • Clumping Bamboo
  • Sawara Cypress
  • Camphor Laurel
  • Cumquat, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Orange (edible species)
  • Brunnings Golden Cypress
  • Leyland Cypress
  • Pencil Pine or Italian Cypress
  • Loquat
  • Coral Tree
  • Weeping Fig
  • Rubber Tree
  • Silky Oak
  • Large Leaf Privet
  • Small Leaf Privet
  • Liquidamber
  • Black Mulberry
  • African Olive
  • Canary Island Date Palm
  • Fishpole Bamboo
  • Black Bamboo
  • Radiata Pine or Monterey Pine
  • Apple, Crab Apple, Nashi Fruit, Pear, Quince (edible species)
  • Lombardy Poplar
  • Apricot, Cherry, Nectarine, Peach, Plum
  • Black Locust
  • Umbrella Tree
  • Cocos Palm

If you aren’t sure which type of tree yours is, contact your tree removal company. They can identify the tree and help you remove it.

10/50 Clearing Legislation

This legislation permits property owners within a 10/50 clearing entitlement area to remove the following vegetation without permission:

  • Trees that are within 10 metres of a home
  • Shrubs and other underlying vegetation (except for trees) within 50 metres of a home

If you’re not sure if your property falls under this category, you need to contact the Rural Fire Service to see if your property is covered and whether there are other conditions you must meet before you begin to clear. Phone them on 1800 679 737.

arborist cutting down a tree limb hanging over water

Know What You Cannot Remove Without Council Approval

If you need to remove—or even prune—a tree that does not fall under Council’s stated guidelines, you need to lodge an application with Council. To maintain the Shire’s canopy for the next generations, you will need to plant replacement trees at a 4:1 ratio. Council will notify you about their requirements for replacement plantings when they approve your application.
Pruning applications will not require a fee-only approval. Tree removal applications will incur a $154.00 fee.

When You Use a Consulting (Private) Arborist

If you hire a qualified arborist, you can provide his or her report to support your application. This will reduce the cost of your application to $35.00, as long as a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (TRAQ) report is included.
Consulting arborists should have the following qualifications:

  • ISA TRAQ approved (required)
  • Membership in a professional association such as the Institute of Australian Consulting Arborists (IACA) or Arboriculture Australia (recommended)

storm damaged tree fallen on car in driveway

Know What to Do In Case of Storms or Other Emergency Situations

In emergencies or after a storm, report storm damage to trees to the SES. The agency maintains a 24-hour helpline for your convenience. Call them on 13 25 00 for help

Jonnie from Wolf Trees & Gardens up tree with chainsaw

Know Where to Go for Help with Your Trees

Choose a tree management company that has a wide range of experience in providing eco-friendly tree removal and pruning services to residences and businesses in the Shire. To learn more about these regulations and how they impact your property management, contact the expert tree management team at Wolf Trees and Gardens today.