Regulated and significant trees
A regulated tree is:
- any tree in metropolitan Adelaide and townships in the Adelaide Hills Council or parts of the Mount Barker Council with a trunk circumference of 2 metres or more measured at a point 1 metre above natural ground level
- in the case of trees with multiple trunks, regulated trees are those with trunks having a total circumference of 2 metres or more and an average circumference of 625 millimetres or more (measured at a point 1 metre above natural ground level).
A significant tree is:
- any tree in metropolitan Adelaide and townships in the Adelaide Hills Council or parts of the Mount Barker Council with a trunk circumference of 3 metres or more measured at a point 1 metre above natural ground level. In the case of trees with multiple trunks, it is those with trunks with a total circumference of 3 metres or more and an average circumference of 625 millimetres or more measured at a point 1 metre above natural ground level), or
- any tree identified as a significant tree in Part 10 of the Planning and Design Code.
Activities affecting regulated and significant trees
The Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 provides that any activity that damages a ‘regulated tree’ is ‘development’, and as such requires a development approval. Specifically, development approval is required for:
- tree removal
- killing or destruction
- branch or limb lopping
- ringbarking or topping
- any other substantial damage to a regulated tree, including to its root system other than maintenance pruning.
Maintenance pruning that is not likely to affect the health or appearance of a regulated or significant tree does not require development approval.
Contact your local council before undertaking any work affecting a regulated or a significant tree to find out what can be undertaken and whether any exemptions apply.
Removing a tree
Identify whether it is a regulated or significant tree - see the Regulated and Significant Trees FAQ for descriptions.
Identify whether the tree species is exempt (a listing is provided in the FAQ).
Determine if the tree is dead. If this is the case no approval is required for its removal.
If you are uncertain about any of the above, you should contact your local council or seek your own independent advice.
How to gain approval
If you need approval, a development application can be lodged on the PlanSA portal.
Development applications do incur a fee.
The relevant planning authority will assess your development application against the relevant provisions of the Regulated and Significant Tree Overlay.
Following the assessment, the authority will either approve, approve with conditions or refuse the proposed development relating to the tree.
What happens next
Approval is granted
If approval has been given to remove the tree, a condition will be placed on your application that states either replacement trees are planted or that money needs to be paid into the urban tree fund.
For replacement trees: two need to be replanted for regulated trees and three for significant trees.
Alternatively you can pay money into an urban tree fund.
Approval is not granted
You have the right to appeal to the Environment, Resources and Development Court against a decision made.
This appeal must be lodged with the court within two months of the application decision being made.
Pruning a tree encroaching on your property
Pruning back a tree branch or branches that are encroaching on your property can occur without seeking approval provided it meets the pruning requirements above.
Pruning a neighbouring tree roots does not require development consent provided it is maintenance pruning that is not likely to affect the health and appearance of the tree.
Approval would be required in the following cases:
- where the pruning would remove more than 30 percent of the tree crown (and is also required to remove dead or diseased wood or to remove branches that pose a material risk to buildings or areas frequently used by people)
- where the pruning is to remove branches that are not dead or diseased or to remove branches that do not pose a material risk to buildings or areas frequently used by people
- where the pruning of roots would affect the health and appearance of the tree.
Urgent work to make a tree safe
in an emergency situation, work involving a regulated or significant tree can be undertaken without first having received a development approval (in most cases this work will be done by the State Emergency Service or council).
As soon as practical after the emergency work is undertaken, the owner of the regulated or significant tree must lodge a development application for the work undertaken.
- Fact sheet - identifying and managing regulated and significant trees
- Frequently asked questions - protecting regulated and significant trees .