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Trees on private property

Removing or pruning a tree on private property

You will need a Tree Works Permit to prune more than 15 per cent of the tree canopy, or remove a tree, on private property if:

  • the tree is considered mature or significant according to our definitions


  • A mature tree is a tree on private property that:

    • is taller than 8 metres, and
    • has a trunk diameter greater than 40 centimetres (measured 1.2 metres from the ground).
  • If you only intend to prune less than 15 per cent of a mature tree's canopy, it is recommended to:

    • use an independent qualified Arborist (minimum AQF Level 3 qualification), and
    • keep before and after photos of the pruning as a record to verify the works (we may request these).

Tree Works Permit

You need to apply online for a Tree Works Permit if you want to prune the canopy of a mature tree by more than 15 per cent, or have a mature tree removed from private property in Moreland.

We will  assess your application against Council policies and strategies , taking into consideration the trees health, condition, structure, location and the reason/s for the request.

If approved, a Tree Works Permit will be issued. The permit must be kept onsite whilst works are undertaken, and made available if requested by a Council Officer. 

In instances where a Tree Works Permit assessment is unlikely to be successful, we may request additional information from you to assist with your application. If a Tree Works Permit  assessment is refused, we will provide the you with a clear explaination why the application was unsuccesful.

You can find out more about the protection of mature trees at clause 2.5 of the Moreland General Local Law (PDF)

  • Your reason

    Outline the reason you want to prune or remove a mature tree.

    A report from an independent qualified arborist

    The property owner is responsible for obtaining an independent qualified arborist report. A report is not the same as a quote. Read the Moreland arboricultural writing guide for the details that we need.

    You need an arborist report unless:

    • You are pruning less than 15 per cent of the tree’s canopy, and
    • you employ a qualified arborist (minimum AQF Level 3 qualification) to do the work, and
    • you retain before and after photos of the pruning as a record to verify the works (we may request these)

    How do I find a qualified arborist?

    • An online search is the best way to find a qualified arborist in your local area.
    • Make sure that the arborist is adequately qualified with an Arboriculture qualification to complete an arborist’s report (AQF Qualification Level 5, Diploma or above).
    • Once you employ an arborist, you can provide them with the Moreland arboricultural report writing guide so they know what needs to be included in the report.

    A professional report from a licensed plumber or engineer

    If the tree you are looking to prune or remove is damaging plumbing or infrastructure (including footpaths) then you will need to provide both:

    • a qualified arborist report, and
    • a report by a licensed plumber or engineer demonstrating that the tree is causing the damage.

    The property owner is responsible for obtaining the licensed plumber or engineer report.

    This report is not the same as a quote. It may include evidence of hand excavation around the pipes and foundations to show where the roots are growing and the effects of this.

    Details of the trees to be removed

    If you are proposing to prune or remove more than one tree, please attach a list of all the trees and their details.

    You will need to include the tree/s height, diameter, type, and location within the property.

    Tree replacement plan

    If you are proposing to remove a tree, you must replace the tree on your property with an appropriate canopy tree. You can find a range of tree options using the tree finder tool.

    The new tree may be planted in a different location. You will need to provide a plan or sketch of the location of the new trees.

    Moreland’s Urban Forestry Officer is available to discuss replacement tree choices, call us on 9240 1111.

  • The following application fees apply for the period 2021/22:

    • Tree Pruning application fee $40.80
    • Tree Removal application fee $81.60

    Fees are reviewed yearly.

  • Before you apply, make sure you have the required documentation.

    You will need to pay the permit application fee by Visa or MasterCard, or you can ask to have an invoice sent to you.

    Apply for a Tree Works permit

Other permits related to trees

You may need a planning permit to prune or remove a tree if your property is subject to a recent planning permit with conditions that relate to trees, or if your property is located within one of the following planning overlay areas:

  • Heritage Overlays
  • Significant Landscape Overlays
  • Native vegetation (Clause 52.17 Planning Scheme)
  • Environmental Significance Overlays
  • Erosion Management Overlays

If a tree on your property is protected through the provisions of a planning permit or an overlay in the Moreland Planning Scheme, you will need our permission before undertaking works on the tree.

If you have a query or a question about the Tree Works Permit process:

What happens if I remove a tree without a permit?

Unauthorised tree removal or suspected poisoning or vandalism of trees is a serious issue and we will investigate this vigilantly.

Offenders are fined under Moreland's Local Law.

It is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure the conditions of a planning permit or overlay are met.

We have the power to prosecute anyone for breaking a tree preservation order associated with an overlay or permit condition. This includes removing, cutting down, topping, lopping, ring barking or causing any damage to the tree directly or indirectly.

Planting trees on private property

Planting trees in your garden helps to increase Moreland's tree canopy and provides shading. You do not need our approval to plant new trees on private property.

What am I responsible for?

You need to make sure footpaths, laneways, rights of way and roads that are next to your property are free of obstacles to pedestrians and other road users.

This means that trees on private property need to be trimmed to a clearance height of 3 metres. Branches, shrubs, and other vegetation must be pruned back to your property line. This is to make pedestrians and cyclists safe, to allow clear visibility, and to prevent damage to vehicles.

Property owners are responsible for inspecting private overhead power lines on their property to ensure they are clear from trees or branches.

If you receive a letter from Jemena asking you to prune trees on your property, this is the property owner's responsibility.

Please note that we do not prune trees on private property.

How do I report overhanging branches from a private property?

If you are concerned about branches that overhang from a private property onto a footpath, laneway or road:

We will inspect the property and then contact the property owner to request they cut the branches. Property owners may be fined if they do not follow the request.

  • If privately-owned trees need to be pruned away from power lines, contact the relevant utility company. These are:

    • Citipower south of Moreland Road and
    • AGL north of Moreland Road.
  • Trees or branches that are overhanging from one private property onto another is not a council matter.

    Disputes between neighbours about trees are covered by common law and are best resolved by talking directly to your neighbour.

    If talking to your neighbour is unsuccessful, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria. This is a free service and can help you resolve your dispute without legal action. Interpreters are provided.

Moreland Urban Forest Strategy

While tree canopy cover in our streets and parks has increased over the past decade, tree canopy cover on private property has declined 25%.

Our vision is to transform Moreland into a municipality where healthy trees and vegetation are a core part of our urban environment.

The Moreland Urban Forest Strategy aims to double tree canopy cover across Moreland, bringing it to 30 per cent by 2050.

Protecting our tree and vegetation cover is important for many reasons, to:

  • provide shade and wind protection
  • provide relief from the urban heat island effect
  • contribute to local biodiversity and provide homes for birds and wildlife
  • improve the landscape, beauty, and sense of place in Moreland’s suburbs.

To help the public contribute to the improvement of our tree canopy we have:

  • taken steps to protect mature trees on private land
  • developed a tool to help people select trees that are particularly suitable for our area, when they want to plant new trees.

You can find out more about how we intend to increase the tree canopy across Moreland on our trees on public property page.