As part of developing the first Greening Strategy for the MidCoast, we identified the need for targeted vegetation management in areas across the region that contribute:

  • significant ecological values, either through maintaining important habitat or corridors linking habitats enabling fauna movement
  • landscape character and amenity… some locations are renowned for their ‘leafy’ character, while others provide a vegetated landscape on entry into our towns and villages.

Targeted mapping was undertaken to identify these areas, which are included in the Vegetation Management Policy.

The vegetation management policy comes into operation from 30 September 2021.

Use the online mapping tool to search the address of your property, and to view:

  • Areas where the Vegetation Management Policy applies
  • Areas that the current Tree Preservation Order applies to within the former Great Lakes.

The example map below demonstrates the areas that the Vegetation Management Policy would apply.

It doesn’t mean you can’t remove vegetation from your property, but it does require that you follow a process. Remember, the aim is to protect vegetation that contributes significant ecological values or landscape amenity, but there are many reasons that the vegetation in question is classed as exempt and can be removed after completing the assessment.

A simple 3-step process starts with a self-assessment that will identify if you need to apply or not is below:

Check our fact sheet for more detailed information about the assessment process, and the exemptions that could apply.

You should also be aware of additional vegetation clearing controls that are in place outside of the Vegetation Management Policy.

Apart from Council’s Vegetation Management Policy, there are other controls that require applications for clearing vegetation on private property, including:

  • the Local Land Services Act 2013 which regulates the management and clearing of native vegetation on rural zoned land in NSW and is administered in the MidCoast by Hunter Local Land Services
  • vegetation present within areas mapped as ‘Coastal Wetland’ or ‘Littoral Rainforest’ in State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018 cannot be cleared without development consent and are mapped on the Biodiversity Values Map triggering entry into the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme
  • the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 requires that a biodiversity conservation licence be applied for clearing of threatened species, ecological communities or protected plants from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

In addition to these controls, some development applications have resulted in conditions of consent and/or other legal instruments (such as section 88Bs registered on the title of the land) that limit the clearing of native vegetation from sites. Applications must be lodged with Council when clearing on these lands is proposed.

If you are unsure and need more information, contact Council or Hunter Local Land Services.

Exhibition period

During May and June 2021 we took a draft Vegetation Management Policy to our community for comment.

The feedback received from the community was considered and some changes made to the draft document.

The policy was then adopted by the elected Council at their 28 July 2021 meeting (view the meeting agenda here) to come into effect from 30 September 2021.

The adoption of the policy also resulted in amendments to the Great Lakes Development Control Plan 2014, Greater Taree Development Control Plan 2010 and Gloucester Development Control Plan 2010 to include consistent provisions in relation to tree management.

Consultation feedback

During the consultation period, we received feedback from the community on the strategy, with key topics raised including:

  • the targeted approach – some of the feedback was concerned the approach was too targeted and others that it should be extended to more locations
  • compliance and enforcement – concern we would not be able to ensure compliance with the policy
  • Offset planting - requests for replacement planting for vegetation removed to ensure no net loss of vegetation

Changes in response to submissions

A number of changes were made to the draft policy in response to the feedback provided in the submissions. These changes include:

  • Policy objectives - an objective has been added to make the intent of the Policy clearer being “identify existing vegetation and land for the purpose of maintaining ecological values or landscape character and amenity”,
  • permit conditions - provisions have been included to ensure exemptions and permits are displayed on the front boundary fence. This will enable neighbours to see that an exemption or permit applies. A 12-month expiry period will also be included as a condition,
  • monitoring - inclusion of the requirement for the self-assessments to be lodged with Council to enable monitoring, compliance and enforcement if required,
  • assessment criteria - amending the eighth assessment criteria to consider waterways to read as “Extent of any impact of the tree(s) or vegetation on waterways, soil stability, the water table or other natural features of the land or locality concerned”,
  • Schedule 2 - Significant local trees - additional tree species have been included for koalas and trees that are important to species like the Glossy Black Cockatoo,
  • Schedule 3 - Exempt species - additional exempt species were updated based on discussions with our Weed Biosecurity, Natural Systems and Tree Management teams,
  • Schedule 4 - Exemptions - to provide clarity on the exemptions, this new schedule provides more information on the exemptions that will be included in the self-assessment form.

A summary of all the submissions can be found in the Document library on this page.