Tree and native vegetation removal

In Victoria, planning controls preserve vegetation. These controls generally require a planning permit to be granted prior to the removal of vegetation, including trees and native shrubs and ground cover, on private property. Exemptions can apply.

Do I need a permit?

Trees and native vegetation are protected under the Maroondah Planning Scheme by a number of Overlay controls. In some cases more than one control may apply to your land.

Under the Scheme, a planning permit is required for:

  • removal of trees within a Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO) area - note there are SLO exemptions
  • removal of any native vegetation in a Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO) area
  • removal of any native vegetation from a property greater than 4000m2 (1 acre)n
  • removal of trees under the Heritage Overlay (HO)
  • removal of trees under the Neighbourhood Character Overlay (NCO).

If you own or live on a site that has had previous development, such as  a dual occupancy or multi-unit development, the trees and vegetation are protected through plans that were approved as part of this development, including landscape plans. In this case you will need to amend a plan or seek the written consent of Council.

Identify your area

The tree and native vegetation overlays relevant to your site can be identified by:

  • you can get a property report to check the planning overlays (VPO, SLO etc.) that apply to your property
  • visiting Realm, 179 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood
  • telephoning Statutory Planning on 1300 88 22 33, giving your street address.

If multiple controls apply to your land we recommend that you contact Council to discuss how these may impact tree and native vegetation removal.

What does not need a permit

Under the SLO and VPO, you do not need to apply for a permit if:

  • you are complying with a formal Notice to Clear fire hazards specifically referring to trees or native vegetation
  • clearance of electricity lines is required (pruning only the minimum to keep the line clear)
  • you wish to prune a tree for regeneration or ornamental shaping (SLO only)

Apply for a permit

The permit application form details the information that must be also be submitted, including the Certificate of Title and scaled site plans.

Apply for a tree or vegetation removal permit

See application fees

Significant Landscape Overlay (SLO) areas

A planning permit is required for the removal of a tree that has a single trunk circumference of more than 0.5m (at 1 metre above ground level) OR a height of more than 5m.

There are exceptions to the above and it is advisable to check with Council before commencing any tree removal.

Are any species exempt from the controls?

SLO3 and SLO4

A number of species are currently exempt from tree controls in SLO3 and SLO4 areas on blocks less than 2000m2:

Botanical Name Common Name Botanical Name Common Name
Crataegus species Hawthorn Chamaecytisus profilerus Tree Lucerne
Coprosma repens Mirror Bush Cotoneaster species Cotoneaster
Hakea salicifolia Willow Hakea Hakea suaveolens Sweet Hakea
Ilex aquifolium English Holly Ligustrum species Privet
Paraserianthes lopantha Cape Wattle Pyracantha species Firethorn
Pittosporum undulatum Sweet Pittosporum
 SLO1 and SLO2

In SLO1 and SLO2 areas, the species listed for SLO 3 and SLO4 are exempt, plus:

Botanical Name Common Name Botanical Name Common Name
Acacia baileyana Cootamundra Wattle Acacia decurrens Early Black Wattle
Acacia elata Cedar Wattle Acacia floribunda White Sallow Wattle
Acacia longifolia Sallow Wattle Acacia saligna Golden Wreath Wattle
Arbutus unedo Irish Strawberry tree Fraxinus oxycarpa Desert Ash (species only, not cultivar forms)
Pinus radiata Monterey Pine

How can I identify these species?

A local nursery may be able to identify a sample of the plant for you. Online or library references may also be useful.

If you are in doubt as to the species of the tree, or whether you need a permit, contact Statutory Planning on 1300 88 22 33.  

Other exemptions

You do not need a permit in an SLO if:

  • the trunk of the tree is within 3m of an existing dwelling (excluding outbuildings), unless the dwelling is part of a multi-unit or dual occupancy development - then Council approval is required
  • the tree is less than 5m in height and has a trunk circumference of less than 0.5m measured at 1m above ground level, unless the dwelling is part of a multi-unit or dual occupancy development - then Council approval is required.
  • a suitably qualified person declares that the tree is dead or dying and has become immediately dangerous. Council expects the person to have a Certificate 5 in Arboriculture or a Diploma or Degree in Horticulture. Obtain the declaration in writing and keep a copy for your own records. Forward a copy to Council if you would like us to confirm the declaration is valid.

Native vegetation removal

Vegetation Protection Overlay (VPO)

In a VPO area, a planning permit is required to remove, destroy or lop any native vegetation, including dead or fallen trees (including shrubs and ground flora) that provide, or are likely to provide, nesting, roosting or other habitat for native fauna.

This overlay applies only to native vegetation. In most VPO areas, the SLO controls also apply.

State controls for larger properties

A planning permit is required for the removal of native vegetation from a property greater than 4000 sq metres (1 acre). 

Land of this size has more extensive application requirements including a Biodiversity Assessment Report. See Clause 52.17 Native Vegetation in the Planning Scheme for all application requirements.


Qualified people to advise on trees

Council recommends that if you are seeking advice on trees that you employ a qualified arborist with a minimum Certificate V in Arboriculture.

The best way to find a suitable person to assess, lop or remove a tree is to search for tree felling and/or stump removal or tree surgery online or in the Yellow Pages.

Is my tree dangerous?

If you consider you have a dangerous tree, you will need to have the tree professionally assessed by a qualified arborist (a minimum Certificate V in Arboriculture) and who has an understanding of risk assessment, and is able to assess that the risk is not acceptable or tolerable.

 Find out more about what makes a tree dangerous

Why are canopy trees important?

Canopy trees are valuable because they:

  • enhance and beautify landscapes
  • improve the look of our neighbourhoods
  • help block unwanted views
  • reduce heat island effect by providing shade and shelter
  • protect the health of our soils
  • moderate wind and absorb pollutants
  • reduce noise and dust levels
  • provide habitat for wildlife and biodiversity; and
  • support the sustainability of our environment and community.

Tree replacements

When a permit is granted to remove a tree, a common permit requirement is to provide one or more replacement trees.

To ensure any replacement canopy tree is afforded the best opportunity to grow and reach maturity in a healthy condition, Council sought expert advice on the minimum standards required for healthy canopy tree establishment and growth in the private realm.

View the expert report Minimum Standards for Canopy Tree Provision below:

Minimum Standards for Canopy Tree Provision(PDF, 360KB)

The minimum standards provide clear guidance around categorisation of different types of canopy trees, and how to determine the associated minimum requirements for positioning, deep soil volume and deep soil surface area.

When a replacement tree is stipulated in a tree removal permit, the associated positioning and soil requirements may also be stipulated, if considered appropriate.

Tree removal and bushfires

Many property owners in high risk areas prepare a fire management plan for their land.

For advice on bushfire management and tree/native vegetation removal please contact Council’s Statutory Planning team on 1300 88 22 33  or 9298 4598. 

Further information

Contact Statutory Planning Services:

  • 1300 88 22 33  or 9298 4598
  • Maroondah City Council, PO Box 156, Ringwood, 3134.