Checks You Need to Make Before You Cut Down a Tree
If you want to remove a tree from your property for any reason, you first need to find out whether you're able to do so. There are both federal and local restrictions when it comes to removing certain trees, and these can apply even when you just want to reduce its size with some aggressive pruning. A significant tree might be protected due to its size (its height, the circumference of their trunk, or the size of its canopy), it might be a protected species, or it might be a habitat for a protected bird or animal. So what do you need to do before you make plans to get rid of a tree on your land?
The National Level
There is a national significant tree registry, with some 2500 trees on their database. These are mostly large native species on public land, but there are a number of trees on private property. You might have a tree on the registry without even knowing it, as it might have been added before you moved into your home. Check the registry first, but please remember that this list is not exhaustive. You will need to make additional enquiries.
The Local Level
Check with your local council. Your council will have an additional list of local trees that are protected. If the tree in question has been placed under a protection order and you wish to simply remove it for aesthetic purposes, you could be out of luck.
Home Extensions and Renovations
You might be able to remove a protected tree if the location of the tree prevents you from a undertaking a home extension or any large-scale renovation project. This is largely determined on a case-by-case basis and the flexibility of this process can vary from council to council. But what about when the tree in question poses a danger?
A Dangerous Tree
A significant tree that has become unhealthy and is in danger of falling over (or is in danger of shedding large branches) is a different case entirely. You might be able to have the tree removed, even if if it's under a protection order. The council might only permit aggressive pruning, but it depends on the tree.
It is wise to speak with tree consultants (who are usually qualified arborists) to ensure that you do not remove more than is permitted. To do so can make you liable for a fine from your local council. The tree consultant can also confirm whether or not the tree is being used as a habitat for any local animal or bird species, which can also have an impact on the amount of branches and foliage that can be removed.
So before you grab the chainsaw or hire a tree removal company, please make sure that you perform the appropriate checks.