Looking up at a large gum tree from the ground.

Protect Our Trees, Protect Our City (Council News Article April 2024)

Looking up at a large gum tree from the ground.

Following an extensive consultation process, Council’s Tree Protection on Private Land Local Law is now in effect.

The new law, which was passed by Council in December 2023, is designed to safeguard the city’s tree canopy by protecting significant trees on private land and means residents will need to apply for a permit to cut down a tree over a certain size.

Protected trees have a diameter of 40cm when the trunk is measured at 1.4m above the ground. Trees declared noxious weeds or deemed an immediate hazard by a qualified arborist can be removed without a permit.

Council will charge for permits from 1 July 2024. Permits will cost $113. If found to be in breach of the local law you may be fined up to $3700. 

The new law supports the work of Council’s Urban Forest Strategy 2021–28 which aims to improve our tree canopy for the benefit of the whole community.

In Greater Dandenong our current tree canopy level of nine percent is one of the lowest in metropolitan Melbourne. Recent research confirms our tree canopy coverage is decreasing at a high rate due to land development, property maintenance, climate change, and pests and diseases.

What is tree canopy and why is it important?

Tree canopy cover is the measure of the area covered by trees when viewed from above and is recorded as a percentage of total land area. 
Greater Dandenong’s figure on nine per cent includes all trees across the municipality, including on private and public land, along waterways and road reserves, in carparks, etc.

Trees are important for our future and offer many benefits for the community, from providing shade to making our streets beautiful. Trees also help reduce pollution and create habitat for wildlife.

What else is Council doing to increase tree canopy?

Council has committed to planting more trees in public spaces and encouraging developers to support equally high standards.

The largest issue facing Council is that there are currently not enough street or park trees to provide the shade and other benefits needed by our community.

Planting more trees is not as simple as digging a hole and planting a tree. Careful planning must ensure that a location will provide the right environment including space provisions for a tree to grow to maturity. The right species must be considered in light of the location, ongoing maintenance needs, and risk management. 

Council aims to increase canopy cover to 15 per cent by 2028 and reduce vacant street tree sites to zero by 2033.