banner image
Vegetation management

City of Gold Coast protects trees and vegetation on private land to preserve our city's character, amenity, biodiversity, historical and ecological values.

Planting and removing trees

City of Gold Coast (City) controls tree planting and maintenance in road side nature strips, public reserves, parks and gardens. The City also has laws, acts and policies governing tree preservation on private lands within the Gold Coast.

Upon application, our experts will inspect trees on private or public lands to gauge their health before determining if removal, pruning or other action is appropriate.

However, it pays to remember that it will not permit the removal of a tree simply because it drops leaves or twigs, or is a particular species. Also, sometimes trimming a tree can cause it to become unhealthy and unstable.

Find some frequently asked questions about planting and removing trees below.

Free trees

More than 35,000 trees are given away to ratepayers by the City each year through the ratepayers tree giveaway scheme.

Public land

Concerns about trees and other vegetation on City-controlled land should be directed to Parks Maintenance Services by visiting our Report a problem - City parks, trees and beaches and completing an online request or by calling us on
07 5667 5974.

For more information about public land plantings refer to the City Plan SC6.10.16 Guidelines for landscaping in road reserves.

Related information

Jump to key information
  • How can I remove a tree from my private property?

    If you have a residential house block, all trees are protected if they meet the definition of assessable vegetation. Assessable vegetation is vegetation throughout the city that is:

    • greater than four (4) metres in height; or
    • equal to, or in excess of 40 centimetres in girth (circumference) measured at 1.4 metres above ground level; or
    • remnant vegetation and its native understorey as identified on the Vegetation Management Overlay Map; or
    • disturbed/re-growth/wetland vegetation and its native under-storey as identified on the Vegetation Management Overlay Map.

    An application to the City is required for vegetation clearing or damage to assessable vegetation.

    Removing a tree without formal approval

    On land 8000 square metres and greater, no approval is required if a tree is:

    • under 40 centimetres in girth (i.e. circumference / around the trunk) at 1.4 metres above ground level and less than four (4) metres in height
    • less than 10 metres from the approved building.

    On land less than 8000 square metres, no approval is required if a tree is:

    • under 40 centimetres in girth (i.e. circumference / around the trunk) at 1.4 metres above ground level and less than four (4) metres in height
    • less than three (3) metres from the approved building.

    OR

    Where the vegetation proposed to be damaged meets the self-assessable acceptable outcomes of the vegetation management code.

  • I want to put up a boundary fence but a tree is in the way

    If the tree is on your own property, some exemptions for assessable vegetation close to property boundaries apply:

    • On lots less than 4000 square metres
    • On lots between 4000 - 7999 square metres, damage to assessable vegetation can occur if it is within three (3) metres of the boundary
    • On lots 8000 square metres and greater, damage to assessable vegetation can occur if it is within 10 metres of the boundary.

    Note: The distance between the property boundary fence (existing or proposed) and the assessable vegetation is measured from the centre of the diameter of the tree's trunk at ground level to the nearest edge of the fence's foundations. The proposed fence must be constructed within 21 days of the vegetation damage.

    However, if the tree is on your neighbour's property and the trees meet the self-assessable acceptable outcomes, you must liaise with the tree's owner(s) to get their approval to remove the tree, provided that you erect the fence within 21 working days of the tree being removed.

    If the neighbouring tree(s) is/are owned by City of Gold Coast (City), application will need to be made to the City seeking approval to injure, affect or destroy public vegetation.

    Please visit the Civil disputes involving vegetation and trees page for advice about resolving a neighbourhood dispute involving vegetation and trees. 

  • The leaves from the neighbour's tree drop in my pool – surely that means they have to remove the tree?

    No. In many cases pools are built well after trees have become established. If the trees are not causing any damage and are just dropping leaves then City of Gold Coast would not look favourably at an application for removal.

    Please visit the Civil disputes involving vegetation and trees page for advise about resolving a neighbourhood dispute involving vegetation and trees.

  • Well, what do I do now?

    It is recommended that you contact one of the following agencies to investigate or assist you in resolving the problem:

    • Legal Aid office (QLD) -1300 65 1188
    • Gold Coast Community Legal Centre & Advice Bureau Inc. - 07 5532 9611
    • Dispute Resolution Centre - 1800 017 288

    In addition, you can trim whatever is overhanging your property (only to the boundary line).

    In neighbourhood disputes, first try to reach an amicable agreement directly or through an objective mediator such as the Dispute Resolution Centre or the Gold Coast Community Legal Centre & Advice Bureau Inc. Legal action tends to damage neighbour relations. Generally, liaising with your neighbour is better than using a third party.

    Please visit the Civil disputes involving vegetation and trees page for advise about resolving a neighbourhood dispute involving vegetation and trees.

  • Can I throw the branches back into their property?

    Overhanging branches - you can lop off overhanging branches of a neighbour's tree if the branches are causing a nuisance. You should not trespass on the neighbour's land to do this. However, any branches you lop off belong to them and they cannot refuse to take the branches back if you are unable or willing to dispose of them.

  • What do I do to resolve a dispute about a tree with my neighbour?

    Please visit the Civil disputes involving vegetation and trees page for advise about resolving a neighbourhood dispute involving vegetation and trees.

  • I have building approval to build a new house; do I need approval to remove the trees?

    Vegetation clearing within an approved building footprint for the construction of an approved detached dwelling is self-assessable. No application is necessary. For vegetation outside of the appropriate dwelling setbacks, an application is necessary.

  • I live in a complex (Building Unit Plan / Group Title Plan) and there is a tree on common property that I want removed. Can I remove this tree?

    No. All vegetation on common property in a complex will require an application to City of Gold Coast for removal. The application should be submitted by the Body Corporate or its representative.

  • The tree is dead so can I remove it without City of Gold Coast's approval?

    No. All vegetation greater than four (4) metres in height, or equal to, or in excess of 40 centimetres in girth (circumference) measured at 1.4 metres above ground level, requires City of Gold Coast approval to be removed, regardless of whether it is dead or alive.

  • Do I need to fill out an application form?

    For general maintenance/ pruning works on Public Lands you can make application by contacting the City. If you are requesting a tree on Public Land to be removed, you need to complete the following form:

  • How much does the application to remove a tree cost?

    Public tree clearing or works is free, unless associated with a Development Application.
    There are fees associated with:

    • private tree clearing or works
    • if associated with a Development Application (Reconfiguring a Lot, Operational Works, or Material Change of Use)
    • if associated with a Building Application and an approved Family Accommodation.

    For all fees please refer to the 'Operational Works - Environmental' section of Council of the City of Gold Coast's current Register of Fees and Charges.

  • My tree branches are going into the power lines; what can be done?

    Contact Energex and they will remove any intruding tree parts from the power lines.

  • Will City of Gold Coast remove the tree(s) on my property?

    No, if City of Gold Coast approves the tree(s) to be removed, you will have to engage your own tree specialist/contractor to do the work.

  • Can you recommend someone to remove the tree(s)?

    City of Gold Coast cannot recommend contractors. Refer to the vegetation management on private land fact sheet.

    Ensure that the contractor has insurance and, in the case of tree surgeons, has tertiary qualifications and/or is a member of an arboricultural society.

  • Someone has cut down trees on their property – do they have approval?

    Ring City of Gold Coast (City) on 07 5582 8688 to check if they have obtained approval or if an approval was necessary.

    If you are sure the trees did not meet the self-assessable acceptable outcomes of the Vegetation management code and City approval has not been obtained, then contact the City's Local Law Compliance section on 07 5667 5991 to report a breach. A city officer will go out to investigate the possible illegal removal.

  • I live on a rural block and want to clear vegetation. Do I need to apply to City of Gold Coast?

    Yes. An application must be submitted to City of Gold Coast for any clearing of vegetation on rural lots. If the vegetation is remnant it has additional protection under State legislation. Any clearing of remnant vegetation regardless of the status (endangered, of concern or not of concern) will require approval from the State Government.

    If you are not sure what remnant vegetation is and you have an email address, lot and Registered Plan details, visit the Queensland Government website to request an emailed copy of your property report with the vegetation category and status clearly illustrated.

  • What is remnant vegetation?

    Remnant vegetation is all intact and predominantly intact vegetation communities, excluding young regrowth. Clarification can be provided via the above web page link.

  • There is a tree on the nature strip or in the park next door to my property and it is dangerous or dead. Can I remove it?

    No. You must contact City of Gold Coast's (City's) Parks & Recreational Services to assess the tree, as only the City or its contractors are allowed to remove or prune trees on public property. Complete our online Report a problem form or or call 07 5667 5974.

  • I live in a townhouse and we have a Body Corporate but there is tree on my private property (courtyard). Can I remove it?

    If the lot is less than 8000 square metres and the tree is within three metres (measured from the centre of the trunk to the nearest edge of the foundations of an approved building) and is located on your private property, then the removal is self-assessable under City Plan. No application is necessary.

    However, if the tree is not within three metres of the foundations of an approved building, is over four metres in height or over 40 centimetres in girth measured at 1.4 metres above ground level or mapped on the Vegetation Management Overlay Map, the tree is protected under the City Plan and an application for its removal must be submitted to the City. If the tree has been planted as part of an approved landscape plan or condition of approval, the self-assessable provisions of the Vegetation management code do not apply. Therefore, approval will be required for damage to the tree.

  • I want to hire a qualified arborist or tree contractor. What should I do?

    Hiring a tree contractor or consultant deserves careful consideration and caution. A mistake can be expensive and long-lasting, but the right choice can assure safe healthy trees with a longer life. City of Gold Coast cannot recommend contractors, however for information on hiring a qualified and insured arborist in your area, contact the Queensland Arboricultural Association. Please visit the Steps to complete before hiring a tree contractor or qualified arborist page for more information.

ADVERTISEMENT

Top of page Top of page