Saving Our Significant Trees

A better way to preserve our environmental heritage

For over 20 years, the law has recognised the special place that stately old trees play in our environment, especially in the cities and suburbs where most of the original vegetation is gone. Whether it’s a centuries-old native River Redgum or a stately oak or elm, these trees need to be protected, whilst there are still some left.

However, the laws protecting trees are weak and the rights of citizens to protect them are few. We do need to protect public safety, but dubious claims of danger from falling branches can now be made without expert assessment. We are even seeing healthy trees chopped down for no reason other than that might be in the way of some future development.

The existing laws around “significant” and “regulated” trees are failing the community and the environment and need to be reformed.

Taking action

The Greens will legislate to:

  • Expand the definition of “significant” and “regulated” trees to include important native species that might not grow massive trunks, but are still worthy of protection. Size isn’t everything;
  • Ensure that a qualified arborist must verify claims that trees are dangerous before removal can be authorised. If trimming will fix the problem, then that’s often better than removing the whole tree. Emergency situations will still require emergency action;
  • Prohibit the practice of developers of clearing vegetation before any plans for replacement buildings have been lodged.
  • Enable neighbours and other citizens to participate in decisions to remove large trees. The trees might be on privately owned land, but their future is of concern to many in the community.