Protected vegetation definitions


Generally, pruning is the removal of branches and leaves from a tree or shrub for the health or strength of the plant. This does not include the root system of the tree.

Pruning involves the:

  • removal of dead, dying and diseased branches
  • correction of poorly formed branches (such as crowded branches or poorly tapered branches) to make the tree or shrub structurally sound and to promote new growth.

A maximum of 20% removal of the live foliage volume of a tree is permitted in any 12 month period. Removing any more than this will cause the tree stress and may cause it to decline.

Climbing spikes may not be used when pruning protected vegetation.

If you want to prune protected vegetation, it is recommended that you contact a qualified arborist. Arborists are trained in correct pruning and tree care practices.

Heritage tree

A heritage tree is a tree which has been protected because of its cultural or natural heritage significance. These trees may be associated with an historical building. Trees may also be solely protected.

The heritage protection status of the tree may be held under the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection or also by Brisbane City Council’s Heritage Unit.

If you want to prune or work on a heritage tree, contact Council on 07 3403 8888 and ask for the Heritage Unit.

Tidal vegetation

Tidal vegetation is any vegetation which falls within the tidal zone of a waterway or wetland and is affected by tidal waters. This primarily refers to mangroves, regardless of their size or age. It also protects:

  • salt water couch and other wetland or waterway grasses and groundcovers
  • some larger shrubs and trees.

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

Waterways and wetlands

Waterway corridors

Waterway corridors are shown on Planning Scheme Map 2 and as defined in Brisbane City Plan 2014.

Locations of waterway corridors may change as the City Plan is updated.

The Brisbane River Corridor is measured:

  • 20 metres horizontally from the high water mark on each side of the river within built up areas
  • up to 100 metres horizontally from the high water mark on each side of the river outside built up areas.

Other waterway corridors are generally measured by flood regulation lines or a 30 metre setback from each side of the centre line of the waterway.


Wetlands are areas shown on Planning Scheme Map 2, and defined in Brisbane City Plan 2014. They are permanently or intermittently covered by water.

Wetlands extend to the seaward boundary of the coastal vegetation line and include areas of marine water that are less than six metres deep at low tide. They may be:

  • natural or artificial
  • static or slow flowing
  • fresh, brackish or saline.

They may include:

  • waterlogged soils
  • ponds, billabongs and lakes
  • forest swamps and marsh swamps
  • tidal flats, salt marsh, seagrass, estuaries
  • flood plains.

Artificial wetlands include Stormwater Quality Improvement Devices, farm dams, sand extraction sites and detention basins.

To work on vegetation protected by waterway or wetland conditions, outside of the exemptions, you must apply for a permit to work on protected vegetation.

Significant landscape tree

A significant landscape tree (SLT) is a tree in one of three situations:

  1. A tree growing within an area classified as Emerging Community under the Brisbane City Plan 2014 and of a species listed in Schedule 2 of the Natural Assets Local Law.
  2. A tree listed in the significant landscape tree register within Schedule 6 of the Natural Assets Planning Scheme Policy of Brisbane City Plan 2014 (and as amended from time to time).
  3. Any individual tree protected by a Natural Assets Local Law Vegetation Protection Order.

Exemptions do not apply to significant landscape trees, unless it is an emergency. To work on significant landscape tree, you must apply for a permit to work on protected vegetation with a report from a Level 5 qualified arborist.

Vegetation Protection Order – Individual Tree

Individual trees or groups of tree may be protected under the Natural Assets Local Law with a Vegetation Protection Order. The Vegetation Protected Order - Individual Tree (VPO-IT) generally protects trees which:

  • are excellent specimens of their species
  • have significant landscape or cultural values.

Exemptions do not apply to VPO-IT trees, unless it is an emergency. To work on a tree with a VPO-IT you must apply for a permit to work on protected vegetation with a report from a Level 5 qualified arborist.

Development Assessment conditions

Vegetation can be protected by development assessment conditions. For example, for some subdivisions to be approved certain trees or areas of vegetation must be retained.

On some properties a specific area is designated for house construction to maximise the amount of vegetation left on the property. These conditions belong to the land regardless of whether the property changes ownership.

To work on vegetation protected by development assessment conditions, other than the listed exemptions, you must apply for a permit to work on protected vegetation.

The application will be processed by an officer from either Council’s Development Assessment department or Environmental Management Team.


A covenant is:

  • a type of contract which can set restrictions on a piece of land
  • issued under the Land Titles Act 1994.

The restrictions imposed by a covenant exist regardless of the property owner.

A covenant can restrict the removal of vegetation while also requiring that the owner enhances the property's vegetation with planting and weed management.

A covenant may be set as a part of development assessment conditions made during the subdivision stage.

To work on vegetation protected by a covenant you must apply for a permit to work on protected vegetation.

19 March 2015