Trees & Vegetation

Cabbage palms in distance

image of the base of a Moreton Bay fig tree with landscaping

Preservation and management of trees & vegetation forms part of the Kiama Development Control Plan 2012 (Chapter 3).  The objectives of Chapter 3 are to:

  • maximise public safety within the Kiama Local Government Area;
  • identify and conserve trees of ecological, heritage, aesthetic and cultural significance;
  • establish the procedural framework and requirements governing the pruning, removal and subsequent replacement of trees within the Kiama Local Government Area;
  • identify exempt trees and other vegetation that may be pruned or removed without the necessity for a tree management application or development consent; and
  • ensure all new developments consider impacts of existing trees on, or adjacent to the development site.  Provides opportunity for the healthy growth of large trees.

Two processes have been established to deal with the assessment and approval of applications for the removal, lopping and pruning of trees/vegetation:

(a) permit (generally for individual/small scale tree removal in residential areas); and
(b) development consent as part of a development application.

How to obtain a tree permit

Read Chapter 3 Preservation and Management of Trees & Vegetation which outlines assessment criteria, any additional information requirements, exemptions and other relevant information that will assist you in your application.

  1. Applications must be in writing using the Tree Management Application
  2. Fees & Charges (refer to page 72)
  3. Inspections will be performed by Council's Tree Management Officer and/or consulting arborist
  4. You will be notified in writing of the determination (permit issued or refusal letter).

If the tree is on your neighbour's property refer to Trees on your neighbour's property.

If the tree is a street tree or a tree in a reserve refer to Street trees & trees in reserves.

Check the Exempt Tree Species List to ensure the tree is not listed.

If you do not agree with our determination of your tree management application there is a review process available to you. This handy fact sheet sets out the review process.

Answers to your tree questions can be found in the tree section of our frequently asked questions.

Emergency situations

If the subject tree poses an immediate and imminent danger to people or property you are not required to obtain a tree permit. Evidence must be provided by an arborist prior to any work commencing - a statement from the arborist and photos of the tree must be submitted to Council as soon as convenient.

You do not need a permit if the tree works have been directed by the SES.

Illegal removal or pruning

Under the Kiama Development Control Plan 2012 Chapter 3, a person must not ringbark, cut down, top, lop, remove, injure or willfully destroy any tree or other vegetation, without development consent or a permit being granted by Council.  This clause applies to trees and vegetation that:
(a) are 3.0 metres or more in height; or
(b) have a diameter of 200 mm or more at a height of 1.0 metre above the ground; or
(c) have a branch spread of 3.0 metres 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 a policy to take action against persons carrying out works without approval. This depends on the seriousness of the action. The policy for dealing with breaches of the Order depends on the seriousness of the 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. These breaches are dealt with by issuing a penalty infringement notice.

Serious breaches include the removal, poisoning or heavy lopping of a number of trees, or the removal of a single significant tree. If Council decides that a serious breach has been committed then a prosecution is launched through the Land & Environment Court. The Court may impose fines and/or orders for restoration.

Free trees

Ratepayers may obtain two free trees each financial year. The stall is held at our World Environment Day event each year and on three other days selected throughout the year. Please telephone us to find out the next day - (02) 4232 0444.

Suitable/recommended trees

Residential gardens

Read the:

Development sites


Planting tips

  • Find out the mature size of the tree and select a spot that gives it plenty of room to grow.
  • Plant deciduous trees on the northern side of a building to allow adequate sunlight in winter.
  • Position trees to screen out hot western sun in summer.
  • Do not plant trees with a mature height of more than 3.5 metres under electricity wires.
  • All planting should consider where your underground services are located.
  • Plant appropriate plants for the site.
  • Always plant quality-grown plant stock and train your trees into structurally stable forms ie. do formative pruning at an early stage to develop a single leader formation.

Dealing with weeds

Weeds are a threat to our environment.


  • compete with native plants
  • attract pest animals
  • upset the natural balance of our ecosystems
  • cause problems for farmers and;
  • can damage crops and agriculture.

Within our area, weeds that pose the biggest threat are known as priority weeds. 

The South East Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan provides guidance on what the priority weeds for the Kiama area are.

Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 everyone has a duty to ensure that, so far as is reasonably practical, the biosecurity risk posed by priority weeds is prevented, eliminated or minimised.

In our area, the Illawarra District Weeds Authority oversees work to control priority weeds and provides information on what can be done to control weeds.

Council’s weed control work

To control weeds on public land across Kiama we:

  • Conduct ground and aerial spraying. Our Pesticides Notification Policy explains where and how we spray problem weeds.
  • Support bush regeneration volunteer groups like Bushcare and Landcare to regularly remove weeds and plant native species to help reduce the spread of weeds.
  • Carry out planning and research. We work with the NSW Government, Illawarra District Weeds Authority and neighbouring councils to share information and combine our efforts to control weeds.