What is the draft Public Tree Management Policy?

Council has prepared a draft Public Tree Management Policy to better plan and manage public trees and vegetation. This Policy clarifies Wollongong City Council’s principles, procedures and requirements for managing trees and vegetation on public land and to provide the overarching set of policy statements which govern our approach.

The Policy provides clarity on Council’s objectives and policy positions in relation to public trees and vegetation. It specifically: 
  1. Establishes Council’s commitment and future strategic direction for the enhancement, protection, management and maintenance of public trees and vegetation.
  2. Provides clear policy approaches for all public tree issues.
  3. Applies to all Council activities undertaken by Council’s staff, contractors, consultants, volunteers, the general public and ratepayers.

Why do we need a Public Tree Management Policy?

Council has a leadership role in protecting, maintaining and enhancing public tree assets as part of the overall ‘urban forest’.  This means purposefully planning for a greener, shadier city and providing the right trees in the right location.

Wollongong City Council does not currently have an overarching policy governing the management of trees and vegetation on public land.

What does the draft Public Tree Management Policy cover?

Carefully planned and well-managed public trees are valuable assets delivering significant long-term benefits to the Wollongong Local Government Area, and the Policy is focused on identifying opportunities to manage our trees better, to maximise benefits and minimise risks.

The Policy covers a number of important aspects of public tree management including tree, protection, tree planting and selection, tree replacement, removal and pruning, tree asset management and community consultation and engagement. 

Site constraints and conflicts with infrastructure need to be carefully managed – the wrong tree in the wrong spot can lead to problems in the future.

Many of our current public trees may be nearing the end of their useful life. We need a consistent and agreed approach to replacing these trees.

What will Council do?

Council will strategically plan, invest in and deliver quality streetscapes and open space, improved public amenity, and increased shade for the whole community.

Council will achieve this by:

  • Developing documents and processes necessary to support a robust public tree management program.
  • Using a staged approach to address priority areas.

What is the draft Tree and Vegetation Vandalism Policy?

The draft Tree and Vegetation Vandalism Policy has been prepared by Council to respond to ongoing tree/vegetation vandalism occurring within the Wollongong Local Government Area. In particular, conflicts between water views and vegetation in coastal and lakeside areas have resulted in the vandalism of trees and vegetation on Council owned or managed land.

The draft Tree and Vegetation Vandalism Policy aims to promote the value of and need for protection of trees and vegetation on Council owned or managed land, and to provide consistency in Council’s deterrence, investigation and response procedures, including the use of covert surveillance cameras.

The draft Policy outlines Council’s policy position, objectives and responses to the vandalism of trees and vegetation on Council owned or managed land. It specifically: 
  1. States Council’s strong opposition to tree/vegetation vandalism on Council owned or managed land at any time or under any circumstances.
  2. Promotes a consistent approach by Council to respond to tree/vegetation vandalism occurring on Council owned or managed land.

Why do we need a Tree and Vegetation Vandalism Policy?

Incidents of tree/vegetation vandalism are ongoing on Council owned or managed land, particularly in coastal areas.

The impacts of tree/vegetation vandalism include: 
  • Loss of habitat for native wildlife
  • Erosion
  • Weed invasion
  • Slope instability
  • Loss of shade and amenity
  • Costs to Council (both financial and human resources)
There is currently no Council adopted policy that details the types and levels of response to tree/vegetation vandalism on Council owned or managed land.

The Policy promotes a consistent response to the ongoing damage to, and loss of vegetation arising from deliberate vandalism on Council owned or managed land.

How was the draft Tree and Vegetation Vandalism Policy developed?

The draft Tree and Vegetation Vandalism Policy is largely based on Council’s internal Management Policy – Tree and Vegetation Vandalism Investigation and Response (adopted 3 February 2015), with additional information provided on the use of covert cameras for vandalism surveillance and the legal issues associated with their use.

What types of tree and vegetation vandalism does this Policy cover?

As defined in the Policy, tree and vegetation vandalism means the unlawful ringbarking, cutting down, topping, lopping, pruning, removal, injuring, poisoning, burning, mowing over or wilfully destroying any tree (regardless of height, trunk diameter or branch spread) or other native vegetation on Council owned or managed land.

How can I report tree/vegetation vandalism to Council?

You can report tree/vegetation vandalism on public or private land via Council’s website at www.wollongong.nsw.gov.au/reportit or by calling Council on 4227 7111.

You can also report tree/vegetation vandalism to NSW Police on 131 444.

Is the draft Tree and Vegetation Vandalism Policy only about response measures after an incident of tree/vegetation vandalism has occurred?

The Policy also includes sections on community education, prevention and monitoring, which are aimed at preventing and reducing the incidence of tree/vegetation vandalism.

How will Council manage trees and the vandalism of trees on private land?

Existing planning controls, regulations, legislation, Tree Management Permits and Council’s existing Tree Management Policy remain the mechanisms for managing trees on private land.
All reported breaches of Council’s Tree Management Policy are investigated.

What happens next?

You can give us feedback up until 21 March 2018. After a review of the community feedback received, changes to the policies may be made if required.

The final Public Tree Management Policy and Tree and Vegetation Vandalism Policy will then be presented at a Council meeting for adoption.