We have partnered with the Greater Bank to plant 20,000 new trees across several sites in Newcastle.
Ironbark Creek, Wallsend
Planting in July/August 2021, will revegetate around 500 metres of creek along a rehabilitated section of Ironbark Creek. Three thousand new plants will reduce creek bed and bank erosion and continue to reinstate a wildlife corridor that extends from Elermore Vale, through Wallsend, and to the internationally important Hexham Swamp and Hunter Wetlands National Park.
Maclure Reserve, Jesmond
To celebrate World Environment Day in June 2021, a mixture of trees, native grasses and groundcovers were planted on a knoll at Maclure Reserve in Jesmond. The new plants will create a cooler, more appealing space, and treat stormwater runoff into the nearby Hunter Water channel.
King Edward Park, The Hill
Planting was undertaken late in 2020 on the southern section of King Edward Park along the popular Bathers Way walk. The 4000 new plants will enhance a protected and endangered ecological community known as 'Themeda grassland on seacliffs and coastal headlands'. New coastal vegetation will also support wildlife and improve the park for walkers, runners and picnickers.
Wetland Planting, Wallsend
Planting took place last year and will reinstate vegetation around an important freshwater wetland. Located on the edge of Wallsend and home to many local and migratory bird species, this wetland is a big drawcard for local birdwatchers. The 2,500 new plants will enhance this area for both aquatic and terrestrial native animals.
Bull and Tourle Street Reserve, Mayfield West
Undertaken in November 2020, this was the second stage of a planting aimed at enhancing a pocket of Coastal Foothills Spotted Gum Ironbark Forest. The first was completed in 2019 on National Tree Day. 5,000 native grasses, groundcovers, shrubs and trees were planted and they will benefit both the community and our native wildlife.
For more about the project visit the Greater Bank website. You can also subscribe to our monthly Natural Connection e-newsletter to stay up to date on future community planting days.
A private tree is any tree on land not under City of Newcastle’s care and control. We have a range of controls and requirements regarding private trees that should be considered before undertaking any activity to or around trees.
Urban Forest Technical Manual
The Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual is separated into three parts based on the land on which the tree, shrub or other vegetation is located, and the type of vegetation present:
- Part A:trees and large shrubs located on private land.
- Part B: trees and large shrubs located on public land.
- Part C: native vegetation communities on private land.
Damage and Vandalism of Private Trees
Damaging or removing a tree without consent can be a breach of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 or Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. Penalties or prosecution can apply to someone who damages or removes a tree without consent:
- Maximum Penalty imposed by Local Court: $100,000
- Maximum On-the-spot Penalty infringement Notice (imposed by City of Newcastle): $3,000
- Maximum Penalty imposed by Land and Environment Court: $1.1 million.
For more information on tree removal on private land or to download an application form, see below in tree, shrub and vegetation removal.
Trees and Development
Development can impact on both public and private trees, see our Development Control Plan and Technical Manuals page. 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.
Trees and Neighbours
City of Newcastle does not have the authority to tell a neighbour to remove or prune trees growing on their land. Residents will need to consult a qualified arborist for an inspection. Disputes over trees must be resolved between you and your neighbour. There are, however, some options for you to consider:
If your neighbour does not agree you can seek mediation. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method which involves you, your neighbours and a trained mediator discussing the problem to determine an outcome which is agreed to by all parties.
Contact the Hunter Community Justice Centre for assistance on 02 4925 0333.
Seeking legal advice
If you believe the tree or overhanging branches are creating a legal nuisance, you can seek legal advice from a solicitor or the Chamber Magistrate.
In 2006 the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act came into force in NSW. Information is available by going to the 'Trees and hedges' section of the Land and Environment Court website.
Trees 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.
Our approach to good tree management includes:
- Forward planning – strategies for the future
- Early intervention
- Better long-term care
- Sustainable planting programs
Street trees are important
Trees help keep our city cool, absorb and store carbon, provide food and shelter for wildlife, and keep our air and water clean. Trees also make us feel great when we're walking past them and make our city look beautiful.
Healthy, well-developed street trees create shade over our footpaths, roads and other hard surfaces which absorb and radiate heat, and this shading helps to reduce the 'urban heat island’ effect by cooling our city and suburbs during our long, hot summers. Drivers appreciate shaded kerbside parking and the softening view of trees lining the road. Tree lined streets also beautify our suburbs and influence property values and marketability.
For more details on the contribution of street trees please refer to the Newcastle Urban Forest Background Paper.
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 the Environment Operations Act 1997 and/or the Environmental 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 complete a Customer Request Form.
Trees and Development
Development can impact on both public and private trees. The Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual is a component of the Newcastle Development Control Plan 2012 Section 5.03 and informs development and public tree management. It is important that any trees within 5m of the development are considered in accordance with the relevant sections.
Can I prune a public tree myself?
No. You should never attempt to prune or remove a public tree yourself. We are responsible for the maintenance of all public trees. If you think a public tree needs maintenance you can contact us. One of our qualified Arborists will assess the tree to determine the need for maintenance and will assign work if required.
Work we can assess:
- Pruning for pedestrian or vehicular clearance where it's not detrimental to the tree
- Maintenance pruning to remove dead, diseased or dying branches
- Selective pruning to provide adequate clearance to buildings
- Root pruning to abate root interaction with principal infrastructure
- Pruning for vehicle sight lines, road signage and Transport NSW requirements
- Removal of damaged or diseased trees
- Emergency works related to storms
- Removal of trees interacting with principal infrastructure where all engineering solutions have been considered
Work we won't consent to:
- Pruning of trees contrary to Australian Standard AS4373
- Pruning for height or size reduction
- Pruning for occurrences such as the natural shedding of leaves, flowers, fruit, seed pods, bark or twigs
- Pruning to prevent overshadowing or to provide solar access
- Pruning of overhanging branches back to boundary or fence lines
- Pruning or removal of trees to prevent sap drop, bird or bat droppings
- Removal of trees interacting with non-structural built assets (e.g. garden pathways, fences and the like)
- Removal of trees or the application of pesticide to control termites
- Pruning of trees to provide visibility of commercial signage or to provide access to views
- Pruning or removal of trees that are claimed to be causing allergies
- Removal of healthy, structurally sound trees
- Removal and replacement of healthy trees due to resident’s preference for an alternative species
Trees and Footpaths
If a tree appears to be causing damage to a footpath, you should report the matter by contacting us. We will investigate whether changes to the footpath require intervention. If it is deemed that repair work is required, we will try to find a way to repair the footpath in a manner that does not disturb the tree.
The City of Newcastle Landcare is the network centre for all Landcare, Dunecare, Bushcare and Coastcare groups working on council land within the Newcastle local government area.
To find out about where there is a related Landcare group in your area, visit the NSW Landcare website: City of Newcastle Landcare
Each year we plant around 1200 street and park trees through our Living Streets program. We prioritise areas most in need as well as recently completed stormwater, road and footpath repairs and construction. Tree planting is also part of our large infrastructure projects.
Newcastle Tree Map
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Our Tree Map shows all the street and park trees that are currently part of Newcastle’s urban forest. We do our best to ensure this information is accurate but there may be occasional errors. If you spot anything that doesn't seem quite right, or you have a question about any of the content, please contact us.
You removed a street tree from in front of my house, will a replacement be planted?
We hope to replace all removed street trees, however we may be unable to in some circumstances. There may also be delays on replacement trees as we will be replanting by street, not by property.
Do residents pay for tree planting in their streets?
Residents only pay for trees if public trees are removed as part of driveway or development application.
How will the ‘right’ tree species be selected for my street?
Trees are selected based on space limitations, soil and climate conditions, and design and infrastructure. We also ask residents for approval.
Once the site-specific information has been filtered through the tree species matrix, a short-list of species with suitable characteristics is generated. Residents will then be consulted on progressing to the final selection of preferred species. Trees are ordered under contract eighteen months prior to planting to ensure availability and quality.
What is the planting process?
You will be notified by a letterbox drop one to two weeks prior to planting. Then the ground is prepared and excavated and within a few weeks, the tree is planted.
Who will maintain the new trees planted in my street?
Our tree planting team will maintain all newly planted street trees until they are properly established (a minimum of at least two years). Maintenance of newly planted street trees includes watering, mulching, fertilising, weeding and formative pruning. After this time our tree maintenance team will take over maintenance of the tree.
You are welcome to give additional water to the new tree and to remove weeds and trim grass around mulch edges, taking care not to damage the trunk.
Once established, the new street tree should not normally need additional watering, but trees less than five years old will benefit from periodic deep watering in dry times.
Pruning, fertilising and pest control is our responsibility. Please do not attempt to prune a public tree yourself. If you feel a public tree requires pruning or other maintenance, please contact us to request a tree inspection by one of our qualified arborists.
Should I top-up the mulch at the base of the street tree?
We use mulch that is treated to a specific Australian Standard. To ensure we maintain this level of quality we ask that you do not top-up mulch around street trees.
Can I plant a tree of my choice?
We do not grant approval for residents to plant trees themselves on public land as many of our services run underground and you may affect your street’s electricity, sewerage, or gas.
What if people plant trees on public land without approval?
If a person plants a tree on public land, we reserve the right to remove the tree. We may attempt to place the removed tree in a pot which will then be returned to the resident, however where potting is impractical, the tree will simply be removed and disposed of without compensation to the resident.
Planting large trees for the future
We are continuing to plant large tree species for future generations in parks or similar open areas, minimising damage to infrastructure and the tree. This approach extends the useful life of the tree and reduces our maintenance costs.
We are planting more public trees than we remove. For example, 274 figs were planted between 2002 and 2012 which equates to three figs planted for each fig removed in this period.
In most circumstances, a permit is not required from the City of Newcastle for pruning of trees or shrubs on private land, however a Pruning Specification form may be required to be completed.
Read the Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual before pruning for helpful tips on how to appropriately prune trees and shrubs on your property.
Pruning that does not require a pruning specification
A pruning specification is not required to prune trees and shrubs on private land where:
- the tree or shrub is less than 5m in height
- the pruning is to remove branches that are within 1m of a dwelling, formal path or driveway
- the pruning does not alter the overall shape or structure of the tree
- the branches removed are less than 100mm in diameter at the final cut
- the final cut is at a branch collar or appropriate growth point (refer to Section 2.3 of the Manual)
Pruning requiring a pruning specification to be completed
For trees and shrubs greater than 5m in height, a Tree Pruning Specification form must be completed and the following criteria must be met:
- the property owners’ consent has been obtained
- the Tree Pruning Specification form has been prepared by an AQF Level 3 Arborist in accordance with Australian Standard AS4373 - 2007
- the pruning work is carried out by a minimum AQF Level 2 Arborist in accordance with the prepared specification and AS4373 - 2007
- the completed pruning specification form must be retained by the property owner for a period of two years
- if the tree or shrub is (or forms part of) a Heritage item, known Aboriginal object or place of Aboriginal significance, the completed pruning specification form must be submitted to the City of Newcastle along with a Heritage Minor Works form. Pruning work should not be undertaken until City of Newcastle endorsement has been granted in these instances.
Refer to Section 2.0 of Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual (Part A) for more detail.
All cuttings and/or mulch should be disposed of appropriately. Tipping of these materials on City of Newcastle land is considered to be illegal dumping, and can incur penalties or prosecution.
Pruning or Clearing that requires a permit
A permit from the City of Newcastle may be required prior to clearing or pruning the following:
- vegetation in a threatened ecological community or a threatened plant species listed under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 or Fisheries Management Act 1994
- any other native vegetation including understorey plants, groundcovers and plants occurring in a wetland and is less than the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold identified under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
City of Newcastle will not accept applications for a permit for clearing or pruning of the above unless the applicant has obtained all appropriate licences, permits or approvals from the relevant Government authority. Refer to the Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual (Part C) for further information and guidance.
Don't top trees
We don’t support applications for lopping or topping trees as lopped and topped trees are more likely to fail and it is harmful to the tree. Lopping or topping trees can lead to penalties or prosecution.
Read the Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual (the Manual) before engaging consultants or lodging application forms.
Tree and shrub removal on your property
The Manual is separated into three parts based on the land on which the tree, shrub or other vegetation is located, and the type of vegetation present. The two parts relevant to tree or vegetation removal on private land are:
- Part A - Private Trees: provides guidance on the management of trees and shrubs located on private land.
- Part C - Native Vegetation Communities: provides guidance on the management of native vegetation communities on private land.
Part A - Private Trees
Private Tree Removal - Exempt Criteria (no application required)
In accordance with Part A of the Manual there are some instances where approval is not required for the removal of trees or shrubs on your property. To remove a tree or shrub without approval on your property, the tree or shrub must meet one of the following criteria:
- The tree or shrub poses an immediate risk to life or property due to a demonstrated sudden change to its structure as a result of a severe storm or wind event. Documentation for removal must be in accordance with Part A Section 3.3 (1) of the Manual. The tree is dying or dead, and the requirements of Section 3.3 (2) of Part A of the Manual have been met. The tree is less than 3m in height or with a circumference at breast height (1.4m above ground level) less than 450mm for a single trunk tree, or less than 300mm for each trunk of a multi-trunk tree. See Section 3.3 (3) of Part A of the Manual.
- The shrub is less than 5m in height and is not part of a native vegetation community.
- The tree or shrub is located within 3m of the wall of an existing principal building (excluding carports, garages, pergolas, fences, retaining walls and the like) on the land where it is situated or on adjacent privately owned. See Part A Section 3.3 (5) of the Manual.
- The tree or shrub is part of native vegetation previously planted for agriculture, agroforestry, forestry, horticulture or woodlot purposes.
Private Tree Removal - Application Required
Owners of trees or shrubs that do not meet any of the above criteria will need to submit an application form as outlined below:
For removal of three or less trees (or shrubs) with replacement planting complete and lodge a Private Tree Removal Application Form.
For removal of more than three trees (or shrubs), or for removal of three or less where no replacement planting is proposed complete and lodge a Private Tree Removal Application Form. You must also provide a current Level 5 Arborist Report which demonstrates removal is the only option after considering all other reasonable options (in accordance with the Manual). Removal of trees/shrubs for future development is not permitted. Tree/shrub removal associated with a development will be assessed as part of the Development Application process.
Part C - Native Vegetation Communities
Part C of the Manual is to be consulted where the removal of more than three tree/shrubs is within a native vegetation community, wetlands, riparian zones or endangered ecological communities on private land. In these instances a Native Vegetation Removal Form must be completed and submitted to City of Newcastle.
How do I get approval to remove a tree on my property?
For a Part A tree, Permit Application for Tree Removal form must be completed and returned to City of Newcastle for processing. Once a determination has been made, you will receive a letter of the outcome.
How much does it cost?
- one to three trees - $92.00
- over three trees - $26.00 per additional tree
Note: the above Fees and Charges are for 2022/23 and will be used for the updated permit application for tree removal form.
Hiring a suitably qualified person
It is important that any person you contract to remove trees, or to diagnose and report on tree risk and condition, is suitably qualified, experienced, and adequately insured. The Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual Part A Section 6.0 provides the qualifications for an arborist to complete the documentation under each process.
For Development Applications, a full arborist report is required and must address the following matters:
- The arborists details
- Site address
- The full name of the person or company for whom the report is prepared
- The methods and techniques used in the site and tree inspection
- A suitably scaled plan of the site A table showing for each tree surveyed: A summary and/ or discussion of other relevant tree and site information Tree hazard assessments should be conducted and recorded in accordance with industry best practice
- Supporting evidence if relevant to the proposed works or to assist in describing tree or site conditions
- A summary of all options available
- A review of the implications of the proposed development on the health and structural condition of trees to be retained
- A description of the recommended protection measures to be put in place to ensure the protection of trees to be retained, and a description of any proposed method of tree removal
- A list of recommendations and the reasons for their adoption
- The sources of technical information referred to in the report
- Present information as objectively as possible without attempting to support a specific development outcome
- Provide the scientific and common names of all tree species proposed for planting, including recommendations on the size and quality characteristics of trees to be planted.
Read Section 4.0 of the Manual for more information on arborists’ reports.
What happens next?
A City of Newcastle officer will review your application and the arborist's information, and may check the tree/shrub before making a decision. If the application is accepted, a permit will be issued containing conditions. You will be notified if your application is unsuccessful.
Can I clear my block of land before I put my development plans to City of Newcastle?
No. You would be in breach of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. You are required to submit information about the impact of your development on the existing trees with your main development proposal.
City of Newcastle does not process Part A permit applications for tree removal in relation to development. See Section 4.0 of the Manual for Arborist report requirements to support development applications.
Can I place mulch or green waste on Council land?
No. All cuttings and/or mulch should be disposed of appropriately. Tipping of these materials on Council land is considered illegal dumping, which can incur penalties or prosecution.
How do I remove trees on neighbouring private land?
To apply for tree removal on a neighbour’s property, you will need:
- the owner’s consent
- to submit a Permit Application for Tree Removal to The city of Newcastle for processing. It is essential that the owner of the land on which the tree is situated signs the Permit Application for Tree Removal.
For information on tree disputes, see above under private trees.
What is a Native Vegetation Complex/Community
A native vegetation complex is generally a natural setting of layered vegetation and may or may not include trees or shrubs. Some common examples are coastal heath land, bushland, riparian zones and wetlands. Part C of the Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual is to be consulted when dealing with these types of vegetation.
The typical suburban yard with trees, shrubs and planted gardens is not a Native Vegetation Complex.
How can I get a new tree planted or be involved in tree planting in my street?
If your street is not identified in our current tree planting program, you could have discussions with your neighbours and others in your street to canvas their views on street enhancement using tree planting. If enough people are interested, you can gather signatures and complete a Community Street Tree Planting Request form and lodge it with us for consideration We conduct a maximum of three whole street plantings per year.
Single street tree planting
If your street already has street trees and only your property is lacking a tree, or if there is not enough interest from your neighbours to have a whole of street planting, please complete a Customer Request Form. Your request will be forwarded to our City Greening team.
Can I plant flowers, vegies or other plants at the base of the street tree or in the nature strip in general?
Yes. You can read about our street gardens program here.