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What is involved with removing a tree?

Got a tree on your property that you need to remove? Depending on the size of the tree, it may not be a job that you can handle yourself. You also need to check that the tree isn’t protected. It may be protected by Council planning rules (and would need a resource consent to remove), land covenants or consent notices on the certificate of title.

Always do your homework before you start to chop!

Tree removal is a specialist and high-risk task that demands the right skills, knowledge, and experience. Felling a tree (cutting it at the base and letting it fall) won’t always be possible. This is particularly true in dense urban areas or on properties in close proximity to other buildings, power lines, or other structures. In these cases, tree removal involves a slow dismantling of the tree piece by piece from the top, which requires rope and pulley systems. This process is called tree rigging.

Let’s have a look at the different processes and what is involved with removing a tree.

What is involved in removing a tree?


All tree removal, whether felling or dismantling, will require a risk prevention and management plan. This covers everything from the equipment that will be used and the number of workers, to the risks in the surrounding area and how the tree will be disposed of.

An important consideration when removing a tree is the weather conditions. Will it be windy? Might it rain? Due to the high-risk nature of the work and working at heights, rain and high winds will significantly impact safety and other operations on a tree removal site.

Equipment and safety

What might be required?

  • Chainsaw – a chainsaw can weigh up to 10 kilograms. It requires a lot of strength and energy to manage a chainsaw safely at heights. Think about who will be doing this work, and if they’re the best choice. For larger trees it makes sense to get a specialist in rather than trying to DIY.

  • Safety glasses – eye protection is a must for arborists and tree removal professionals. A lot of debris is generated when cutting a tree, so goggles, glasses, or a full face shield are required to protect eyes and prevent any accidents caused by obstructed vision.

  • Protective clothing - clothing made from thicker or reinforced materials to protect from debris, or in case the chainsaw accidentally gets a bit too close. Tree removal workers will also wear heavy duty gloves and, of course, a helmet to protect their head from debris or in case they suffer a fall.

  • Earmuffs/plugs – spending a lot of time up close and personal with loud chainsaws and other noisy equipment can cause serious damage to the ears.

  • Boots and spikes – heavy duty work boots are worn when felling and removing trees to protect feet from falling tree matter or from the equipment. They will be steel-toed and often accompanied by strap-on spikes, which allow for better grip on the tree while working at heights.


Every tree removal situation will be unique with its own risk factors and level of complexity.

Basic tree rigging (dismantling) can be as simple as throwing a rope through the join (union) of two branches and tying the end around the branch or piece of tree to be removed. The workers on the ground will hold the other end of the rope while the tree worker cuts the branch off. The ground workers will then lower the piece to the ground with the rope.

High-end tree rigging uses rope, pulley, winch and bollard systems. These techniques will be used where there are high risk factors that need to be managed more carefully. High tech rigging might also use computers and digital metres to calculate angles and forces required to remove branches and trunks from particularly tricky areas.

Calling in the experts

As you can see, whether the tree is simply cut off at the base and felled in the standard way, or the more high tech rigging technique is required, it is a specialist job.

The last thing you want is for your felled tree to topple the wrong way or to suffer a fall while you are trying to navigate the heights of the tree’s branches. It is for this reason that we recommend leaving this job to the experts. They have the skills and equipment to ensure the job is done well and done safely.

Is your tree protected?

If your tree is protected, resource consent is required to remove it. If you’re not sure if your tree is protected get in contact with your local Council. You can also check yourself by looking at the District Plan online.

Disclaimer As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.

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