WA Urban Tree Regulation

Trees near house in Perth - photography by Fleur Edwards

In order to enjoy thriving Urban Forests in our cities and towns, we first need to protect our existing large healthy trees. WATCA is advocating for sensible, effective state-wide regulation of the removal of large trees (greater than 8 metres) in our urban areas.

Recent analysis of tree protection mechanisms across Australia by the Conservation Council of South Australia rated WA as having the weakest protections for trees on private land in the country.

At present under the WA planning framework, development approval is not required for the removal of large trees from private land, so trees that have taken many years to grow and which deliver huge environmental, social and economic benefits, can disappear in hours without any thought to the consequences for our community.

Often by the time a development application is lodged the land has already been entirely cleared of vegetation!

Many cities - like Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Singapore – have successful tree regulation in place.  These regulations strike a balance between urban consolidation and preserving trees and precious green spaces. Increased densities and trees can go hand in hand with a bit of extra thought - it doesn't have to be either/or.

Perth has Australia's hottest summers, so it's vital that we catch up with the rest of the nation by introducing practical and effective regulation of the removal of large trees (trees over 8 metres).

Development Approval for Removal of Large for Trees on Private Land 

One practical pathway for such regulation would be for WA's Minister for Planning to amend the Planning and Development (Local Planning Scheme) Regulations 2015 - Deemed Provisions and add a provision to require development approval for the removal of large trees.

Importantly, this would align with the State Government's Planning Reform agenda by providing consistent regulation across all local governments.

There would of course be instances and exceptions where large trees should be removed, however the emphasis should be placed on retaining large trees that provide countless community benefits.

Once our precious large trees are gone, we can’t easily replace them. They take decades and sometimes hundreds of years to grow to maturity…but only hours to remove.