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Can I cut down that tree?

Its about this time, with a long weekend approaching, that people decide its either time to go away for the weekend or

sort something out around the house. Often this means tidying the garden and cutting trees. But before you cut that tree- is it protected?

The way in which trees are protected has changed in recent years. In the early 2000's many Council's protected trees over a certain height or diameter in urban and rural areas, and consent was required to cut trees down or prune them. Changes however to the Resource Management Act in 2012 saw the Government preventing Council's from protecting trees in urban areas through blanket protections. The purpose of these changes was to reduce the costs associated with obtaining resource consents.

As a result, many trees within urban areas of Auckland can now be removed without the need of a resource consent. However, you need to check:

  • Is the tree scheduled? Scheduled trees have a higher level of protection, and you need to make sure what you want to do is a permitted activity (i.e. doesn’t need a resource consent). You can find out by looking at the planning maps. In Auckland this is accessible here.

  • Is the tree part of a wider scheduled ecological area or overlay? In Auckland these are referred to as “Significant Ecological Areas” (SEA), and Overlays (such as “Natural Stream Management Area Overlay”). Again you can find this out by looking at the planning maps. Vegetation removal and alteration is controlled in these areas.

  • Is the tree located close to a watercourse or the coast? Vegetation close to a watercourse or the coast is generally protected, due to its ecological value and importance in minimising erosion.

Is the tree on your property? If the tree is in a neighbour’s property, the legal road reserve or a public reserve you will need additional approvals. This may include a resource consent and landowner approval.

It is always best to check before you cut and we recommend contacting your local Council to check your specific situation. While it may seem like a good idea at the time, remember that the Council has a number of enforcement options available to it if the tree is protected, including fines and even prosecution. Do your homework before you cut!

Alice has over 6 years of planning experience in multi-disciplinary consultancy’s and within the public sector, both in Auckland and Melbourne.

She has been involved in both preparing assessments of environmental effects and analysing resource consent applications, for a variety of commercial, residential and rural developments.

Alice holds the degree of Bachelor of Environmental and Resource Planning and is a Member (Int) of the New Zealand Planning Institute.

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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