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Tree removal - private land

Tree removal – private land

We protect trees and vegetation on private land to preserve the city's character, amenity, biodiversity, historical and ecological values. Over 90 per cent of the trees and vegetation on the Gold Coast are on private land. They form an important part of our urban forest.  

Do I need approval?

If a land owner wishes to remove or damage any protected vegetation on their property, submission of an application may be required.

There are a number of checks that need to be conducted in regards to the size, condition and location of the tree before any vegetation can be removed.

Use our checklist to find out if an application is required: Do I need to lodge an application for the removal of vegetation on my property?

The checklist will advise if the vegetation you wish to remove is either accepted development or assessable development.

Accepted development

An application to the City of Gold Coast is not required if the proposed works can be undertaken in accordance with the required outcomes for accepted development. Damage to the vegetation can be undertaken without City approval and no application is required.

The City will not remove trees from any private land, so please ensure you engage your own tree specialist/contractor to do the work. For further information, refer to the Hiring an arborist or tree contractor page.

Assessable development

An application to the City is required if the proposed works cannot be undertaken in accordance with the required outcomes for accepted development.

Damage to the vegetation cannot be undertaken without City approval and an application for operational works - vegetation clearing is required.

Applications are assessed against the vegetation management code and any applicable City Plan overlay, such as the environmental significance overlay maps.

How to lodge an application for tree clearing

There are different types of operational works (OPW) - Vegetation clearing applications:

Each of these applications requires different fees and supporting information to be provided. Details are outlined in the below sections.

Standard tree works application not associated with a building development

Where a resident of a private property wants to remove a tree or vegetation and there are currently no developments or proposed developments being undertaken on the lot, the resident should complete the following forms and submit to the City for approval before proceeding.

  • State Government Form 1
  • Site plan for tree works

These forms can be found below and can be sent with cheque for payment by mail or submitted in person at any of our customer service centres.

Associated fees and charges are listed as OPW (Tree works) under the Operational works - Environmental section of the current Register of fees and charges.

Tree works associated with a building approval

Where a resident of a private property wants to remove a tree or vegetation and there is currently a building approval being undertaken or proposed on the lot, the resident should complete the following forms and submit to the City for approval before proceeding.

  • State Government Form 1
  • Application for operational works

These forms can be found below and can be submitted online or sent with cheque for payment by mail or submitted in person at any of our customer service centres.

Associated fees and charges are listed as OPW Tree Works (Private Works) under the Operational works - Environmental section of the current Register of fees and charges.

Tree works associated with a development approval

Where a resident of a private property wants to remove a tree or vegetation and there is currently a development being undertaken or proposed development on the lot, the resident should complete the following forms and submit to the City for approval before proceeding.

  • State Government Form 1
  • Application for operational works

These forms can be found below and can be submitted online or sent with cheque for payment by mail or submitted in person at any of our customer service centres.

Associated fees and charges are listed as operational works (private works) under the Operational works - Environmental section of the current Register of fees and charges.

Tree works associated with a vehicular crossing

If there are trees obstructing your proposed vehicular crossing, you are requested where possible to consider alternative options to avoid damage to the existing trees. Where this is not possible, you will need to submit a combined application for operational works (Vehicular crossing and vegetation clearing). The applicable fee for this combined application is the OPW Vehicular crossing (VXO) application fee plus 50 per cent of the OPW-VXO-Tree works as outlined in the Register of fees and charges.

Application requirements

Click to enlarge Example of drawing showing site plan

Example of site plan

Applicants must obtain written consent from the owner(s) of the land and state their reasons for wanting to damage assessable vegetation.

A site plan should be included with each application containing sufficient details to clearly identify the vegetation of concern to assist with the assessment process. Please note that absent or poorly prepared site plans may result in delays to the application and the applicant being required to provide more details.

Other factors that may impact your application include:

It is important to note that removal of, or damage to, vegetation may require further approvals under additional State and federal legislation.

It is advised that you have all required approvals necessary before starting works.

You may also have duty of care responsibilities under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 to take reasonable measures to avoid or protect wild animals and their breeding places from damage. The engagement of a wildlife spotter catcher may assist you in meeting your duty of care obligations.

Approved building envelopes

Click to enlarge Example of lot drawing showing building footprint

Example of building footprint

Some larger properties may have approved building envelopes.

A building envelope is defined in the City Plan as the area of a lot defined by metes and bounds within which all development including but not limited to a building, structure, private open space, car park, storage, on-site wastewater treatment and associated removal of vegetation must be confined other than a boundary fence. The term does not include a driveway from a road to the building envelope area.

While a building envelope defines the area where all structures must be confined, it does not afford rights for removal of, or damage to vegetation.

Vegetation proposed to be removed within the approved building footprint does not require City approval.

Vegetation proposed to be removed outside the building footprint, but within the approved building envelope (or elsewhere in the lot) will require an application.

Environmental offsets

Assessable vegetation clearing within the city may attract environmental offsets. This requirement is guided by Schedule 6.8 City Plan Policy – Environmental offsets and the 'Environmental significance – Vegetation management' overlay of the City Plan. Environmental offsets are used to balance the impact of the removal of vegetation on site and can be located either on or external to the site at which assessable vegetation removal is proposed.

For further information in relation to environmental offsets, please see the Overview of environmental offsets practice note.

Report illegal tree clearing or wilful damage

To report illegal removal or wilful damage on public or private land, use our online forms on our Report a problem - Trees, plants and vegetation page. Alternatively, you can call us on 07 5667 5991.

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