Brisbane City Council Tree Removal Regulations

A Closer Look at Brisbane City Council’s Tree Preservation Strategies

Do you have a tree on your private land in Brisbane that you as the property owner want to remove or prune?

Dealing with city regulations for managing and removing individual trees on private land can be confusing.

This guide will walk you through the key things you need to know to successfully navigate Brisbane City Council’s tree removal process.

Brisbane’s Native Urban Forest is at Risk

Brisbane is known for its extensive native urban forest that includes many native trees. This vegetation plays a crucial role in improving air quality, reducing flood risk, cooling the city, and enhancing livability in Queensland.

However, Brisbane’s native tree canopy is under threat. Rapid development and population growth have led to significant loss of native vegetation over the past two decades. At the same time, more severe weather events are damaging and destroying trees.

Follow Brisbane City Council’s Tree Management Policies

Brisbane City Council recognises the importance of preserving and expanding tree cover across the city. They have put in place tree management policies to protect valuable native trees and ensure any removals are appropriate.

Here are some key things to know about the council’s regulations:

Tree Protection Laws

  • Several laws like the City Plan and Vegetation Protection Local Law protect Brisbane’s trees. Fines can apply for unauthorised removal.

Assess Your Tree’s Health and Value

  • Not all trees require approval to remove. Check factors like the tree’s size, species, location and health to determine if it’s ‘significant’ by council criteria. An arborist report can help.

Apply for Approval If Required

  • Submit a Tree Management Application for council approval before removing or heavily pruning significant trees on your private land.

Use Qualified Arborists

  • Council requires appropriate tree care by qualified arborists to Australian standards. Get professional advice before pruning or removing any substantial tree.

Replace Removed Trees

  • To help rebuild canopy cover, you may need to plant approved native tree replacements to offset any approved removals on your private land.

Communicate With Neighbors

  • Talk with your neighbors before removing or heavily pruning any tree near their property line to avoid disputes and address public safety. They can object or provide input.

Consider Alternatives

  • In some cases pruning, relocating or redesigning landscape may allow a hazardous tree to remain rather than being completely removed.

By understanding these regulations and seeking approval where required, you as the property owner can help preserve Brisbane’s urban forest while managing trees on your private land. Consulting an arborist and communicating with council and neighbors are key to succeeding.

A Step-By-Step Guide to the Brisbane City Council Tree Removal Process

Here is a step-by-step overview of what to expect when navigating the tree removal application process in Brisbane:

Step 1: Evaluate the Tree

Work with a qualified arborist to assess the individual tree’s significance based on factors like size, species, health and habitat value. They can also evaluate potential hazards.

Step 2: Consider Alternatives

Explore options like pruning, relocating, or redesigning built structures to see if removal can be avoided.

Step 3: Check if Approval is Needed

Use the arborist’s assessment to determine if council approval is required for removal of this specific tree on your private land.

Step 4: Apply for Approval

If approval is needed, submit a Tree Management Application to council with supporting documents like an arborist report.

Step 5: Conduct Neighbor Consultation

Talk with adjacent neighbors about planned activity and consider their feedback. They can object to protect public safety or landscape values.

Step 6: Await Council Decision

Council assesses the application based on criteria in laws and policies. This process can take several weeks.

Step 7: Receive Approval

If approved, council will issue a Tree Management Permit specifying approved work. Conditions may be included.

Step 8: Organise Tree Removal

Hire a qualified arborist to conduct tree removal or pruning on your private land according to council permit conditions.

Step 9: Arrange Replacement

If required, plant approved native tree replacements on your private land and maintain them to maturity. Submit evidence to council.

Following these steps and working closely with professionals, neighbors and council will help make your tree removal process straightforward. Be sure to keep documentation through the process.

6 Key Things to Know Before Removing a Tree in Brisbane

Follow these top tips when seeking to remove or prune trees on your private land in Brisbane:

  • Consult a qualified arborist to evaluate the tree before applying to council. Their report is crucial.
  • Consider all alternatives before removing significant native trees. Could pruning, relocating or redesign work instead?
  • Check council’s tree register to see if the tree is listed as “significant” before applying.
  • Talk with neighbors potentially affected and address their public safety concerns before applying.
  • If approval is granted, closely follow all conditions on the council permit.
  • Be prepared to plant approved native tree replacements if required by council.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size tree needs approval for removal?

Council assesses ‘significance’ based on tree size, health, native species value, and habitat value. Even small trees may require approval depending on these factors. An arborist can best advise.

How long does council take to assess a tree removal application?

It typically takes 4-6 weeks for council to fully assess an application, but may take longer for more complex proposals.

Can I do minor tree trimming on a protected tree without approval?

Yes, you can prune a significant tree for maintenance without approval, as long as it complies with Australian Standard AS 4373. Major pruning or canopy reduction does need approval.

Is there a fee to apply for tree removal approval?

Yes, council charges a standard application fee that must be paid on submission. This covers their costs of assessment.

Can my neighbor object to a tree removal application?

Yes, council must notify and consider submissions from neighbors regarding any tree removal applications on private land.

Do I have to plant a replacement tree if removing a protected tree?

In most cases council will require planting of one or more native tree replacements to offset canopy loss.


I hope this overview has helped explain Brisbane City Council’s key regulations and processes for managing trees on private property.

While preserving Brisbane’s urban forest is a priority, council does allow appropriate removals where alternatives are not feasible.

By partnering with qualified professionals, considering all options, and engaging positively with council and neighbors, you as the property owner can ensure your tree removal meets requirements.

This contributes to a greener, sustainable and liveable Brisbane.