Public Trees

We consider trees to be significant capital assets. They are as much part of the community infrastructure as roads and footpaths. As such public trees are managed on a whole of life basis, within an asset management framework. All existing trees, new plantings and potential planting sites are recorded in our Tree Asset Management System.

Our approach to good tree management includes:

  • Forward planning – strategies for the future
  • Early intervention
  • Better long-term care
  • Sustainable planting programs

There are over 70,000 trees on public streets and hundreds of thousands more within Newcastle’s local government area. Remnant bushland exists on one third of our community land. These bushland areas not only provide visual amenity - their ecosystems are a fundamental element of our urban forest. The trees which line our roads and pathways, as well as the trees located throughout our parklands and bushland areas, provide us all with an extensive array of benefits.

To maximise these benefits for residents we have invested in effective planning tools, inspection and maintenance routines and renewal programs for this 'green infrastructure' just as we do for our built assets.

Street trees are important

Although street trees are only one component of our city’s urban forest, they are extremely important public assets and there are many reasons why we value them.

Trees help keep our city cool, absorb and store carbon, provide food and shelter for wildlife, and keep our air and water clean. Trees also make us feel great when we're walking past them and make our city look beautiful.

Healthy well developed street trees create shade over our footpaths, roads and other hard surfaces which absorb and radiate heat, and this shading helps to reduce the 'heat island effect' by cooling our city and suburbs during our long, hot summers. Drivers appreciate shaded kerbside parking and the softening view of trees lining the road. Tree lined streets beautify our suburbs and also influence property values and marketability.

For more details on the contribution of street trees please refer to the Newcastle Urban Forest Background Paper (PDF).

Damage to Public Trees

Damaging (includes poisoning), disturbing or removing a tree can be a breach of the NSW Local Government Act 1993, Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and/or the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Anyone found to have damaged, disturbed or removed a tree without consent may be fined or prosecuted, which may result in penalties and a civil conviction.

  • Maximum Penalty imposed by Local Court - $100,000
  • Maximum on-the-spot Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN- imposed by Council) - $3,000
  • Maximum Penalty imposed by Land and Environment Court - $1.1 million.

To report any damage to public trees please contact us by calling 02 4974 2000.

Trees and Development

Development can impact on both public and private trees. The Newcastle Urban Forest Technical Manual is a component of the Newcastle Development Control Plan 2012 Section 5.03 and informs development and public tree management. It assists both the design process and construction phase of a development. It is important that any trees within 5m of the development are considered in accordance with the relevant sections.

It is updated on an annual basis to ensure best practice is consistently applied.