We recently asked our community for feedback on proposed updates to local law that protects significant and canopy trees on private property. On Monday 27 May 2024, Councillors adopted the changes to our Tree Protection Local Law at a Council meeting. You can watch the recording of the meeting on the City of Boroondara YouTube channel.

Canopy trees and significant trees on private land now have more protection and the permit rules are clearer thanks to the newly adopted local law. The updates aim to further deter illegal damage and removal of protected trees.

What we heard

163 people had their say, with the changes supported by 87% of contributors.

You told us you support:

  • Stronger tree controls throughout Boroondara and doing more to protect trees planted as replacements (for a removed tree).
  • Imposing greater penalties - we increased the fine for illegal tree works, damage and removal. The financial penalty of $3,840 (adjusted yearly with CPI) is the maximum that can be applied under the Local Government Act 2020.
  • Adjusting the height at which you measure a tree trunk or branches, in line with industry standards. This may mean more of our canopy trees will be protected.

Changes to the local law

The following changes were consulted on and have now been implemented in the Tree Protection Local Law 2024.

  • Increased fine for illegal tree removal and damage

    Clause 16(2)(b):

    • Previous: $100 penalty unit*, maximum fine of $2,000.
    • Change: $192 penalty unit, as set in the Local Government Act 2020, so the maximum fine is $3,840.

    * See note below.

  • Clear what 'damage' to a tree means

    Clause 7:

    • Previous: Unclear definition, 'interfering' with the tree so it's not 'viable'.
    • Change: 'Damage' means to 'impair the tree's health, structure or stability'.
  • Clear definition that 'works' includes demolition

    Clause 7:

    • Previous: Limited definition with examples included.
    • Change: Specifies that 'demolition' counts as 'works'.
  • Stronger protection for replacement trees

    Clause 8(3)(e):

    • Previous: Replanted trees (due to illegal works or your permit conditions), have no protection. Trees could be planted and removed later.
    • Change: A replanted tree cannot be damaged or removed without a permit.
  • Canopy tree measurement with national guide

    Clause 7:

    • Previous: Trunk measured at 1.5m above ground-level.
    • Change: The trunk must be measured at 1.4m above ground level, as set in the Australian Standards 4970-2009 definition of measuring a tree.
      Condition: Canopy trees that are currently protected will remain protected (remeasuring is not required).
  • Permit required for works near a neighbour’s tree

    Clause 11(2):

    • Previous: Unclear definition, references earlier clause.
    • Change: No change to intent, just a clearer definition.
      If your neighbour has a protected tree but you need to prune it on your side or do works near it (within the 2m Tree Protection Zone), apply for a permit. Your application must include the property owner's permission for you to do the works