Removing backyard trees

Follow the steps below to find out if you need to complete a permit application before you remove any trees or vegetation from your backyard.



Step 1.See if the Vegetation Management Policy applies to your property

Here on the MidCoast, we’ve developed a targeted Vegetation Management Policy to target only those areas where vegetation contributes significant ecological value (like habitats and fauna), or amenity and important landscape character. This means it only applies to specific areas, not right across the region.

To check if your property is covered by the policy, view the Vegetation Management mapping on our online mapping portal. (Switch on Vegetation Management Policy mapping under "General Development Constraints" on the left hand side.) or view the image below.


After using the mapping tool, if you're still unsure whether your property is covered, please contact us for assistance - phone 02 7955 7777 or email [email protected]

To find out more about our targeted mapping process, and why the areas covered are included, view the Assessment Criteria(PDF, 309KB).

Step 2.Apply for an exemption if the policy applies to you

Applying for an exemption is only necessary if the vegetation to be removed or pruned is in an area covered by the policy (see previous step to see if this applies to you.)

If the property is covered by the policy and you want to seek an exemption, please click on the button below to complete the relevant self-assessment form. Note that pruning and removal are treated as separate types of vegetation management, and if you are looking to undertake both, you will need to complete both self-assessment forms.

Apply here

Eligibility for an exemption will remove the need to lodge an application (Step 3). 

Step 3.Apply for a permit to prune or remove trees

Applying for a permit is only necessary if the vegetation to be removed or pruned is in an area covered by the Vegetation Management Policy. You can check whether it is covered in Step 1 of this page. 

If the location is covered by the policy and you have determined the works to be carried out are NOT eligible for an exemption (see Step 2), you can submit a Permit Application for assessment below. 

Apply here

Step 4.Check other vegetation controls

Vegetation management is regulated by a complex web of legislation, programs, controls and strategies, many of which are driven by the State Government. Our Vegetation Management Policy is just one part of this.

All property-owners, even those who are granted an exemption under the Vegetation Management Policy, should ensure the tree/s you intend to prune or remove are not protected under any legislation. While not exhaustive, some of this information is provided below (as applicable on 30 September 2021).

Contact Council if the vegetation you want to prune or remove:

  • is classified as being part of a threatened ecological community.
  • provides, or has the potential to provide, habitat for native plants or animals listed as threatened under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 or Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
  • is a heritage item, forms part of a heritage item, or is within a heritage conservation area.
  • is on a site that contains an Aboriginal object or is located within an Aboriginal place of heritage significance.
  • is specifically identified to be retained as a condition of development consent for building or works or subdivision.
  • is on land where there is an approval or agreement in place that requires the tree to be retained or protected. This could include conditions in a development consent, a conservation agreement, Section 88B restriction on the use of land, or a positive covenant.

Other controls that require applications or specific requirements:

  • the Local Land Services Act 2013 which regulates the management and clearing of native vegetation on rural zoned land in NSW and is administered in the MidCoast by Hunter Local Land Services.
  • Local Land Services, responsible for private native forestry advice and approvals. The NSW Environment Protection Authority is responsible for compliance and enforcement of private native forestry.
  • vegetation present within areas mapped as ‘Coastal Wetland’ or ‘Littoral Rainforest’ in State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018, which cannot be cleared without development consent and are mapped on the Biodiversity Values Map triggering entry into the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme.
  • the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 which requires that a biodiversity conservation licence be applied for clearing of threatened species, ecological communities or protected plants from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
  • the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 which allows for the removal of specific trees during the development of a site. Check the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 to see if there are any requirements you need to satisfy.
  • the NSW Rural Fire Service Rural Boundary Clearing Code which allows for vegetation removal from property boundaries. For details, and to find out if your property is covered by this code, visit the NSW Rural Fire Service website.
  • the NSW Rural Fire Service 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme, which allows clearing of trees close to your house without approval. For details, and to find out if your property is in a 10/50 area, visit the NSW Rural Fire Service website.
  • the NSW Biodiversity Values Map, which identifies areas of high biodiversity and applies to many properties within the MidCoast region. Tree removal on these properties may require a permit from the Native Vegetation Panel.


Frequently asked questions

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