,

Tree Removal & Pruning Guidelines in the Darebin Council

Removing trees and pruning excess foliage are essential parts of sustaining the urban forest and wider ecosystem throughout the City of Darebin. Trees that have become damaged by storms, structurally unstable through age or hazardous from disease must be cut down and extracted to ensure the safety of the community and prosperity of the environment around it. While sick and dying trees cause problems through the risk of dropping branches and falling, living trees can cause an array of issues that can lead to the need to remove. Prosperous, invasive root systems can be a nightmare for houses and developments, causing cracks in pavement, walls and leading to wider financial and aesthetic problems. This pervasive root growth is not limited to healthy mature trees. Tree services without proper equipment and training will frequently leave stumps in the ground once they have felled a tree, allowing the persistent root system to continue growth and exploration. These forgotten stumps can attract pests and diseases to private gardens and lead to greater ecological issues for residents, property owners and the wider community. 

Why Prune a Tree?

Pruning too, is an under-appreciated strategy to protect the health of both private trees and the properties that they occupy. Too often pruning is implemented as a reactive measure to alleviate the problems of falling leaves and branches that have begun to cause a financial burden for homeowners. The build-up of fallen leaves and vegetation on roofs from overhanging branches can damage tiles, cause leaks and block drains, leading to countless other drainage and plumbing problems throughout the residence. These overhanging branches can become over-encumbered by the overgrowth of vegetation on their extremities. All too quickly this can result in unstable branches and limbs that can snap and fall without warning. The damage to houses and vehicles in their path can be great, but is dwarfed by the risks posed to people and animals. Though most people are aware of these risks during periods of high winds and storms, many fail to recognise that these same risks remain prevalent throughout the community from trees that have been improperly maintained or neglected.  

It is therefore important that trimming leaves and lopping overweight branches are no longer seen as reactionary measures, but as a central part of a preventative strategy that is essential to the health and prosperity of trees. Regular maintenance should be carried out at least once a year with a qualified Arborist who can provide assessments on the health of the tree and help to rebalance the weight distribution of mature trees. While pruning and removing trees is a healthy and necessary part of maintaining a healthy ecosystem, there are a number of laws and regulations in place across the region to ensure this is done so in a way that is beneficial to the community and environment. An awareness and understanding of these regulations is useful to ensure you are practicing proper tree maintenance in a lawful manner. However, these laws can be numerous and confusing, so while the following should be seen as a useful guide to the local planning schemes and laws, our friendly team are always happy to guide you through the process in person or over the phone. 

Tree Pruning and Removal Regulations

The Darebin City Council recognise the value of trees for the environment and for the community as a whole. As such, they utilise a combination of Planning Schemes and Local Laws to protect against any threat to the urban forest population or to the removal of significant trees on private properties. 

Removal Regulations

The process of determining whether you need a permit to remove a tree on your private property in Darebin is made simple with just two situations in which you will need one. 

  • Your property is within an existing Planning Scheme that regulates the removal of trees. 

An interactive map is available on the Victorian Environment, Land, Water and Planning website which reveals the existing overlays and ordinances. Further information about the relevant restrictions are available on that website. 

  • The tree you wish to cut down is classified as ‘Significant’. 

Any tree with a trunk  (single or multi-stemmed) circumference greater than one metre, measured 1.5m above ground level and is taller than eight metres is defined as significant. 

Pruning Regulations

As per the Darebin City Council Policy – 7.2 Pruning Trees on private property:

A permit is not required: where pruning is carried out by a qualified arborist in accordance with the relevant Australian Standard (4373:2007 Pruning of Amenity Trees) who certifies their work, including photographs before and after work (e.g. regular maintenance or minor pruning)…Pruning of a protected tree by a suitably qualified person, as per the Australian Standards does not require a permit.” 

Exemptions 

A permit is not required to remove a private tree (or section of the tree) if:

  1. There is an immediate threat posed by the tree to persons or property. Only the section of the tree posing the threat is exempt from the removal regulations. 
  2. The tree is classified as a noxious weed under the Catchment and Land Protections Act 1994.
  3. It is for the purposes of pruning dead fronds from a Palm Tree or for non-structural branches of 75mm in diameter or less.

Arborist Insights

Around the Darebin council region our local Arborists are working to keep the population of mature private trees healthy and safe:

We do a lot of maintenance on trees, especially the big stuff,” says our local tree specialist,

taking the leaves off houses. You know pruning big hedges that sort of thing.”  

However, one issue that they come across all the time is a lack of awareness of the planning schemes and local laws that regulate the removal and pruning of private trees throughout the region:

“A big issue that we have is that people think that they own the trees on their properties, they think, ‘it’s my tree I have the right to remove it,’ which is a hard thing to get past. So people will tend to say ‘oh yeah it’s fine, you can do that it’s my tree’, which they can’t because it’s illegal to remove certain trees,” says our lead Arborist. 

Luckily, our friendly team are always happy to give assistance to Darebin residents who are unsure of whether they need a permit to start treeworks on their property:

“We’ll do a check to see whether they need a permit, we’ll ring because we know the Arborists at all the councils that we work in,” says our expert.

Once our specialists are onsite, that’s where the qualifications and years of experience really pay off. There are many things to consider when it comes to judging the health of a tree:

“We’ll look at the root structure, whether there’s exposed roots, any damaged roots from nearby Earthworks. Then we look at everything to do with the leaves. The crutches in the tree, whether there’s debris build up in the crutches or the bark whether the bark is looking healthy or peeling off at the wrong time of the year. Any excess weight on limbs. Too many lean to the limb, usually in the flowering period where they almost double their weight. Also, dieback in the trees, how much deadwood’s in the tree which can fall…So yeah, there’s a few factors that go into assessing trees, whether it’s dangerous or healthy,” says our tree surgeon. 

The good news is that you don’t have to remember all of these factors, our Arborists will do that for you! The only thing you need to remember is to keep your trees healthy and safe by getting our qualified tree specialists to provide regular maintenance and assessments of your trees. 

Cutting to the Chase

When it comes to removing private trees throughout the City of Darebin there are two key categories that require permits before getting started. The first is for trees that fall under the jurisdiction of a pre-existing planning scheme. The second is for trees classified as significant. As for pruning trees, the key is to employ a qualified Arborist who will prune in accordance with Australian Standards, which all of our Arborists do. If you are unsure about any of the regulations, or would like an experienced expert to help you through the process, contact us today