Trees and vegetation


If a tree poses an immediate or imminent danger to people or property, you do not need a tree permit.

You must get evidence from an arborist before work starts, including photos, and send it to Council as soon as possible.

A permit isn't needed if the SES has directed tree works.

Preservation and management of trees and vegetation is covered in the Kiama Development Control Plan - Chapter 2 - Topic 2.4 - Tree Preservation & Vegetation Management(PDF, 2MB).

The objectives are to:

  • maximise public safety throughout our municipality
  • identify and conserve trees of ecological, heritage, aesthetic and cultural significance
  • establish procedures and requirements for the pruning, removal and replacement of trees
  • identify exempt trees and other vegetation that may be pruned or removed without needing approval
  • ensure all new developments consider impacts of existing trees, and provide opportunity for the healthy growth of large trees.

Approval for the removal, lopping, and pruning of trees and vegetation can be obtained by:

  • a permit (generally for small scale removal in residential areas) or
  • Development Consent as part of a Development Application.

Illegal removal or pruning

A person can not ringbark, cut down, top, lop, remove, injure or wilfully destroy any tree or vegetation, without development consent or a permit from Council, if the tree or vegetation is:

  • 5m or more in height,
  • has a diameter of 200mm or more at a height or 1m above ground, or
  • has a branch spread of 3m or more.

Any person who contravenes, or causes or permits to be contravened, the provisions of the Development Control Plan or the Local Environmental Plan shall be guilty of an offence.

Council has the authority to take action against persons carrying out works without approval, depending on the severity of the action or breach.

Minor breaches include severe pruning which threatens the life expectancy of the tree or severely effects its form, or the removal of trees which have no special significance. In these cases a penalty infringement notice will be issued.

Serious breaches include the removal, poisoning or heavy lopping of a number of trees, or the removal of a significant tree. In these cases a prosecution is launched through the Land & Environment Court, which may result in fines or orders for restoration.

Apply for a permit


Apply for a permit

Step 1.What's required?

The Kiama Development Control Plan(PDF, 2MB) outlines all you need to know.

Topic 2.4 (page 12) is where you will find information about tree preservation and vegetation management.

It outlines things you need to consider, such as:

  • assessment criteria
  • any additional information requirements
  • exemptions
  • other relevant information that will assist you in your application.

Step 2.Apply

Providing your tree is not exempt from approval, you can complete a Tree Management Application Form(PDF, 334KB).

Email your application to or drop it off at our Administration Centre at 11 Manning Street, Kiama.

It's also a good idea to review our Fees and Charges(PDF, 4MB) (page 92).

Step 3.Tree inspection

Council's Tree Management Officer and/or consulting arborist will arrange a time to inspect the tree.

Step 4.Decision

We will send you a written letter to confirm the approval or refusal of your application.

If you are not happy with the decision of your application, you can request a review.

A review requires:

  1. Lodgment within 3 months of the refusal or consent being granted.
  2. Additional information required:
    • An arborist report prepared in accordance with Chapter 2 of the Kiama Development Control Plan(PDF, 2MB)
    • A report from a geotechnical or structural engineer, if the tree's root system is affecting a building or infrastructure.
  3. A fee is payable for reviews.

Neighbouring trees

Discuss issues or concerns with your neighbour first.

If a mutually agreed solution can't be reached, the matter may need to go to the Community Justice Centre (CJC) for free mediation service.

If mediation is unsuccessful, the next step may be to apply to the Land and Environment Court for an order under the Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006.

If a Tree Management Application(PDF, 334KB) is required, either party can be applicant, as long as the owners signature is provided.

There are no rules in regards to who is responsible for costs in relation to the pruning or cutting down of a tree on a neighbouring property.

An amicable decision needs to be made in this regard, between the owner and the neighbour.

Street and reserve trees

To report an issue with a tree on public land, submit an online Customer Request or phone our Customer Services team on (02) 4232 0444.

Council cares for, protects and maintains all trees and vegetation on public land.

Work on trees on public land must not be done by anyone other than a Council officer or Council contractor.

Tree guides and tips

Free trees

All ratepayers receive 2 free trees each financial year, which can be collected at our World Environment Day and other stalls held throughout the year.

Keep an eye on our social media platforms or contact Customer Service on (02) 4232 0444 for these dates.

Planting tips

Native garden guides

Residential native planting guide(PDF, 9MB)

Grow Local Illawarra native garden guide(PDF, 2MB)

Landscaping Kiama Development Control Plan 2012 (Chapter 8)(PDF, 672KB)

Weed control


Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 residents have a duty to ensure that, as is reasonably practical, the biosecurity risk posed by priority weeds (weeds that pose the biggest threat), is prevented, eliminated or minimised.

For more information on priority weeds for Kiama, refer to The South East Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017-22(PDF, 973KB), and for assistance in controlling weeds, go to the Illawarra District Weeds Authority.

When is an application exempt?

A Tree Management Application is NOT required if:

  • a Complying Development Certificate has been issued, and removal is in accordance with the provisions;
  • a tree is an immediate threat of injury to persons or property, due to extreme weather and outside of Council business hours;
  • approval has been issued under a previous valid development consent.
  • a tree is identified as a noxious weed;
  • action is carried out by Council, an Emergency Service/Infrastructure Authority, in response to an emergency.
  • removing dead trees and dead wood, which are not threatened species or fauna habitat.
  • clearing or pruning of a tree is authorised under:

     - Section 88 of the Roads Act 1993;

     - Section 131 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974;

     - Section 48 of the Electricity Supply Act 1995;

     - Plantations and Reafforestation Act 1999 - where a tree is located within an “approved plantation”;

     - Forestry Act 2012 - where a tree is located within a “State Forest” or on land reserved for sale as a “timber forest reserve”.

Exempt tree species

Ensure the species of tree you are pruning or removing is on the below list, and is not within the curtilage of a heritage item or heritage conservation area.

Please contact our Customer Service on 4232 0444 or email if you are pruning, lopping or removing any tree on the list, and provide the following details:

  • type of works (prune or remove)
  • tree species
  • property address
  • date of works
  • photos of trees


Exempt tree species list

  • Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia baileyana)
  • Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii)
  • Golden Wreath Wattle (Acacia saligna)
  • Tree of Heaven (Alianthus altissima)
  • Box Elder (Acer negundo)
  • Chinese Celtis (Celtis sinensis)
  • Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora)
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster species)
  • Golden Pine (Cupressus macrocarpa "Brunniana")
  • Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)
  • Cockspur Coral Tree (Erythrina crista-galli)
  • Coral Tree (Erythrina x sykesil)
  • Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica)
  • Evergreen Ash (Fraxinus griffithii)
  • Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta)
  • Golden Rain Tree (Koelreuteria elegans)
  • Norfolk Island Hibiscus (Lagunaria patersonii)
  • Privet (Ligustrum patersonii)
  • Privet (Ligustrum sinense)
  • Candleberry Myrtle (Morella faya)
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • African Olive (Olea africana)
  • Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata)
  • Sweet Daphne (Pittosporum undulatum)
  • All Poplar Trees (Populus species)
  • China Doll Tree (Radermachera sinica)
  • Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
  • All Willow Trees (Salix species)
  • Umbrella Tree (Schefflera sp.)
  • Cocos Palm (Syagrus romanzoffianum)
  • Tipuana (Tipuana tipu)
  • Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans)
  • Rhus Tree (Toxicodendron spp)
  • Leylandii Pines - all varieties (xCupressocyparis leylandii)
  • Fruit Trees being grown specifically for their edible fruit for human consumption