Council considers trees to be significant capital assets. They are as much part of the community infrastructure as roads and footpaths. As such public trees are managed on a whole of life basis, within an asset management framework. All existing trees, new plantings and potential planting sites are recorded in Council's Tree Asset Management System.
Council’s approach to good tree management includes:
- Forward planning – strategies for the future
- Early intervention
- Better long-term care
Sustainable planting programs.There are over 70,000 trees on public streets and hundreds of thousands more within Newcastle’s local government area. Remnant bushland exists on one third of council’s community land providing visual amenity and ecosystem services as a fundamental element of Council’s urban forest. This 'green infrastructure' along our roads and pathways and throughout our bushland and parklands provides us all with an extensive array of benefits.
To maximise these benefits for residents, Council has invested in effective planning tools, inspection and maintenance routines and renewal programs for this 'green infrastructure' just as it does for built assets.
Street trees are important
Although street trees are only one component of our city’s urban forest, they are extremely important public infrastructure assets and there are many reasons why we value them.
Healthy well developed street trees create a ‘shadeway’ over our footpaths and help to create the sort of place pedestrians find safe, pleasant and inviting. Drivers also appreciate shaded street-side parking and the softening view of trees lining the road.
Street trees help purify the air and reduce stormwater runoff, and the sounds and sights of birdlife are a wonderful legacy of tree lined streets. Street trees also make retail shopping and dining areas more pleasant as well as influencing property values and marketability.
For more details on the contribution of street trees please refer to the Newcastle Urban Forest Background Paper (pdf)
Damage to Public Trees
Damaging (includes poisoning), disturbing or removing a tree can be a breach of the NSW Local Government Act 1993 , Protection of Environmental Operations Act 1997 and/or the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
Anyone found to have damaged, disturbed or removed a tree without consent may be fined or prosecuted, which may result in penalties and a civil conviction.
Maximum Penalty imposed by Local Court - $100,000
Maximum on-the-spot Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN- imposed by Council) - $3,000
Maximum Penalty imposed by Land and Environment Court - $1.1 million.
To report any damage to public trees contact City Greening Services on 02 4974 6043.
Trees and Development
Development can impact on both public and private trees. The Urban Forest Technical Manual (pdf) is a component of the Newcastle DCP Section 5.03 (pdf) and informs development and public tree management. It assists both the design process and construction phase of a development. It is important that any trees within 5m of the development are considered in accordance with the relevant sections.
It is updated on an annual basis to ensure best practice is consistently applied.
The redevelopment of Laman Street was completed and opened to the public in October, 2013.
Council is responsible for maintaining the city’s public trees.
Council has identified tree planting as an important component in achieving the goals of the Urban Forest Policy, in particular to sustain and expand Newcastle's urban forest on an intergenerational basis.