Apply for a permit to work on protected vegetation

Under the Natural Assets Local Law 2003 (NALL), you must get a Brisbane City Council permit before you can clear or work on protected vegetation that is not covered by an exemption. Permit applications can be made for pruning or removing protected vegetation, minor pruning of street trees, and installing street tree lights (bud lights or fairy lights).

All permit applications are free.

To find out if your property has protected vegetation you can request a map and report online or contact Council.

Application types

There are three  types of permits you can apply for if you wish to prune or remove vegetation not covered by an exemption.

Two of the permits types relate to working on protected vegetation located on private property. These permits are suited to either one-off tasks, or long-term management of protected vegetation.

Short-term work

Suitable for one-off tasks that may interfere with protected vegetation.  This could include one-off pruning or removal of an individual tree, or undertaking larger scale vegetation clearing.

Long-term work

If you are planning routine management and maintenance of protected vegetation applying for a long-term permit may be more suitable. These permits relate to work involving ongoing maintenance or hazard management of vegetation. Because long-term permits may be valid for up to 10 years, a protected vegetation management plan will be required to support an application.

Council street trees

The third permit type relates to carrying out minor pruning on Council street trees. Find out more about applying for a permit to carry out minor street tree pruning.

How to apply

Private property permit applications need supporting documents and images to be provided.

Before applying for your permit, review the Applying for a permit fact sheet (Word - 14Mb) for information on which permit is most appropriate for the work you are planning, how permits are assessed and information required. 

Complete the Application to Carry Out Works on Protected Vegetation online form. Alternatively, you can complete the hard copy form.

If you are issued with a permit, you will be asked to complete an online Declaration of Compliance for Approved Works to Protected Vegetation. This is also available in hard copy form.

Protecting vegetation penalties

Protecting our natural areas for the future is essential. Penalties will apply if an individual or corporation: 

  • interferes with protected vegetation without a Brisbane City Council permit
  • interferes with Council trees (including trees on footpaths), gardens or other vegetation (without a Brisbane City Council permit)
  • planting in a street unless in compliance with Verge Garden Guidelines
  • makes a hole or excavation for planting in a street unless in compliance with Verge Garden Guidelines
  • does not comply with a Council direction, compliance notice or  eradication notice.

Council may issue Prescribed Infringement Notices (PINs) for minor interference offences instead of prosecution. The use of PINs is often a more efficient form of enforcement for dealing with minor offences, while still retaining the option to pursue more serious infringements in court, through the legal complaint and summons procedures.

When seeking remittance for protected vegetation damaged without a permit, Council has a number of options including rehabilitation, restoration and/or compensation. Council also has the ability to recover costs incurred when it rehabilitates damaged protected vegetation.

Penalties are subject to change by the Queensland Government.

Additional points to consider when applying for a permit

Subdividing and developing land or building a house

If protected vegetation is proposed to be affected, you will need to apply for a permit in conjunction with any building and development application. Find more information on development and building applications.

It is best to apply for a permit before finalising your building plans, so Council can discuss all necessary matters with you before you apply for a development or building approval. 

Trimming a tree not on your property

If the tree or vegetation is on Council land, such as in a park, you should contact Council to request work.

If the tree or vegetation is a street tree, you can apply for a permit to carry out minor pruning work. Find out more.

If the tree or vegetation is protected and is on a privately owned property you can apply for a permit, but generally the property owner will be required to sign the application or provide their written consent. Contact Council for more information.

Disputes between neighbours over protected vegetation

There are times when disputes between neighbours over protected vegetation can be satisfactorily resolved through pruning or maintenance of the vegetation via the permit application process. If a resolution cannot be reached unfortunately, these matters fall outside the jurisdiction of the NALL and should be referred to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). Any concerns you have regarding the impacts associated with vegetation, regardless of its protection status, can be referred to QCAT as they are the only authority able to make decisions in relation to these and other neighbour disputes.

Managing risks to people or property

In relation to ongoing maintenance of protected vegetation, the NALL does not stop you from undertaking works to the vegetation. Protected vegetation can be pruned and managed for ongoing maintenance purposes or to manage a hazardous situation. You may however need to have a permit to undertake the works. The permit application process is free.

Bushfire management and protected vegetation

Queensland’s bushfire season traditionally runs from August to November each year. In many parts of the city, vegetation management is necessary for the protection of property and promotion of healthy vegetation communities. Regular prescribed burning in certain areas helps to maintain or increase vegetation diversity, protect sensitive plant communities and native animal habitat, and reduce the risk of wildfire due to a build-up in leaf litter and other vegetative material. Weed management and fuel reduction can also play a role as part of bushfire preparedness. Property owners who live in bushland areas are encouraged to prepare and protect their property from bushfire.

It is important to remember that vegetation management is only one aspect of bushfire preparedness, and if you live in an area at risk of bushfires, you should have a Bushfire Survival Plan. More information on bushfire preparedness is available on the Rural Fire Service website.

Council has prepared a bushfire factsheet (Word - 137kb) to help guide you through fire related vegetation management activities, and when you may require a permit.

You can find out more about preparing for bushfire hazards on Council's bushfires page. Information is also available about Council’s planned burning program.

Last updated: 25 February 2021