Skip to content

Can I clear dangerous trees in my backyard?

Most people would agree that trees are a vital part of the landscape. They provide the oxygen we breathe, offer shade, stabilise soil and provide habitat for wildlife.

Trees become weather beaten and gnarled as they age. In some instances they can drop branches or become unstable posing a serious risk to life and property.

In NSW, the Native Vegetation Act 2003 governs the clearing of native vegetation on rural land zoned Environmental (e.g. E2, E3 and E4), R5 Large Lot Residential, RU1 Primary Production, RU2 Rural Landscape and RU4 Primary Production Small Lots.

South East Local Land Services is the consent authority for this Act, providing advice on what clearing is allowable without consent and undertaking assessments to determine if consent can be granted when it is required.

There are clearing allowances under the Native Vegetation Act – Routine Agricultural Management Activities (RAMAs) – that do not require approval from South East Local Land Services.  Clearing that is considered necessary to remove or reduce an immediate risk of serious personal injury or serious damage to property is a RAMA, provided it is undertaken to the minimum extent necessary.

“Minimum extent necessary” means that you must be able to fully justify removing the amount of vegetation required to eliminate that risk. For example, if the risk can be removed by pruning the upper branches, then this is the “minimum extent” to which you are able to apply the RAMA to reduce that risk.  It is advisable to keep evidence that justifies removal of the tree, including photos of the tree that demonstrate the serious and immediate risk.

If a tree on your property is causing you concern and you are thinking about having it removed, it is worth considering the impact that the removal of the tree will have on wildlife, even if it is just one tree. Generally, eucalypt trees can take up to 100 years to form large hollows and these provide important habitat for small mammals, bats, birds and reptiles.

Contact South East Local Land Services if you wish to undertake any clearing of native vegetation. It is also a good idea to contact your local government office as there may be circumstances in which consent is required from your council.

For more information please contact Laura Canackle at South East Local Land Services on  02 6118 7708 or email


Media contact:  Laura Canackle, 02 6118 7708