Protected Vegetation – Did you know?

In a five part “Did you know?” series, Special Counsel, Danny O’Brien will point out some tips and tricks that may help you avoid some legal hurdles that may be associated with maintaining or developing your land.

  • Local laws, such as the Brisbane City Council’s Natural Assets Local Law 2002, are not land use/development control documents: rather, they are typically considered as tree protection documents;
  • A planning and development certificate or building search won’t show information about protected vegetation on your property – you need to conduct an inspection of records search (for a small fee) and/or ring the general call centre (we recommend acquiring a written record);
  • Searches under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 are irrelevant when dealing with protected vegetation protected by a council;
  • Vegetation might be protected via different mechanisms e.g. by a protected vegetation order or by categorisation, for example, in a waterway corridor or because the tree is of significant size;
  • It is prudent to carry out due diligence before you clear;
  • If you have unlawfully cleared vegetation, the costs of remediation may be significant – the replacement cost of a mature tree may easily exceed $10 000 – if you have cleared numerous trees, you may be vulnerable to be given an order to remediate which could cost significant sums to comply with;
  • It may be difficult to navigate how the local government has calculated its replacement/offset costs and expert/legal advice may be advisable;
  • Penalty unit amounts usually increase each year and a fine may be in addition to the replacement costs;
  • When considering vegetation retention in the context of development it is worth noting that vegetation may increase the property value – see the following websites: