Permit exemptions for protected vegetation

Some work is allowed on protected vegetation without a permit. These permit exemptions are set by the Natural Assets Local Law 2003.

You must obtain a permit from Brisbane City Council to work on protected vegetation for any work not covered by an exemption.

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To find out more about exemptions, download the:

To find out if your property has protected vegetation, contact Council on 07 3403 8888.

Exemption eligibility

Exemptions only apply to protected vegetation which is located within your property boundaries. To work on a property which you do not own, you must apply for a permit and obtain the property owner’s consent.

Unless it is an emergency, the exemptions do not apply to work of any kind on the following types of protected vegetation:

To carry out any work on tidal vegetation you will need to apply for a permit from Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, phone 13 25 23.

Accidents or emergencies

Protected vegetation can be removed without a permit, if the work is essential to respond to an accident or emergency. If you remove protected vegetation because of an accident or emergency, please contact Council on 07 3403 8888.

Trees causing an immediate and significant threat to people or property can be removed without a permit, but you must submit:

  • photographic evidence to Council within 10 business days, and
  • an arborist’s report if requested.

Submit the documents to:

Environmental Management Team
Compliance and Regulatory Services
Brisbane City Council
GPO Box 1434
Brisbane QLD 4001

If the threat is not immediate and significant, you must apply for a permit to work on protected vegetation.

Tree pruning and removal

Protected vegetation can be pruned for maintenance purposes or to manage a hazardous situation.

You may remove or prune trees, except significant landscape trees (part of the Significant Vegetation category), within a set distance of an approved existing building (generally the house), on your property. The whole of the tree trunk must be located within:

  • three metres, if the property is 4000 square metres or less
  • six metres, if the property is greater than 4000 square metres.

No more than 20% of the live foliage volume of a tree or shrub may be removed in any 12 month period. The part removed must be distributed evenly over the whole crown so that the tree or shrub is not left lopsided.

If the trees you want to prune are located in your neighbour’s property, you should approach your neighbour and work together. If you need to apply for a permit, your neighbour will need to sign the application.

All pruning of protected vegetation must conform to Australian Standard 4373 - 2007 Pruning of Amenity Trees. You can buy a copy of this standard from Standards Australia.

As stated in this standard, pruning does not include ‘topping’ or ‘lopping’ practices. Climbing spikes may not be used for pruning.

Pruning for overhead or underground services

Pruning may be approved to allow for overhead and underground utilities. This is in accordance with standards agreed between Council and the utility provider, for example, Energex.

If you are installing any new services and need to remove any protected vegetation, you must apply for a permit to work on protected vegetation.

Removing a dead tree

Dead trees may be removed without a permit if the tree is:

  • smaller than 20 centimetres in diameter, and
  • not providing habitat for native animals (for example there are no hollows or nests in the tree).

Garden maintenance

Garden vegetation is any vegetation planted and maintained in a formal garden area for food or ornamental purposes. Work is allowed if it does not interfere with any tree which has a trunk measuring over 30 centimetres in diameter (measured at one metre above the ground).

Constructing a boundary fence

Vegetation may be removed to construct a boundary fence if all of the following conditions are met. The vegetation must:

Mowing, slashing, grazing of yards, pastures and paddocks

Mowing and slashing is allowed as long as the area being mowed was subject to mowing or slashing at regular intervals of not less than six months prior to the introduction of the NALL in November 2003.

Grazing is allowed provided the land was subject to grazing prior to the commencement of the NALL in November 2003.

Weed removal

Weed removal must not:

  • damage any protected vegetation
  • disturb the soil profiles (layers of the soil). For example, top soil
  • create the potential for soil erosion. There should be no digging, excavation or scraping of soil which may make soil wash away and erode during the rain.

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If you want to remove weeds from a large area or from any waterway or wetland, you should firstly download the:

The work must comply with any Brisbane City Council issued guidelines for managing weeds.