Regulated / Significant Trees

The Development Act 1993 states that any activity that causes damage to a ‘regulated’ or ‘significant’ is classed as development. 

What Is A Regulated Tree?

A ‘regulated tree’ is defined as any tree in Metropolitan Adelaide which has a trunk circumference of 2m or more – or, in the case of trees with multiple trunks, that have trunks with a total circumference of 2m or more and an average circumference of 625mm or more – measured at a point 1m above natural ground level; or any tree identified as a ‘regulated tree’ in a Development Plan. 

A number of tree species are exempt from regulated tree controls, either through their location or their species.

What Is A Significant Tree?

A ‘significant tree’ is defined as any tree in Metropolitan Adelaide which has a trunk circumference of 3m or more – or, in the case of trees with multiple trunks, that have trunks with a total circumference of 3m or more and an average circumference of 625mm or more – measured at a point 1m above natural ground level; or any tree identified as a ‘significant tree’ in a Development Plan.

Further information can be found here.

How Do I Lodge A Development Application?

The Development Act 1993 provides that any activity that damages a ‘regulated tree’ is ‘development’, and as such requires a development approval.

In order for your application for approval for removal or pruning of a tree to be assessed as quickly as possible, the following information should be provided with your application and should be drawn at a scale of 1:100 or 1:200. 

  • Site Plan
    A site plan should show the dimensions of your block and the location of the tree as well as all other existing buildings.  The site plan should also indicate the setback distances of the tree from property boundaries and existing structures.
  • Details Of The Tree
    This should include the species of the tree and circumference of the tree when measured  a point 1m above natural ground level.
  • Statement Of Concerns/Issues
    This statement should include concerns or issues that you have in relation to the tree.  For example dropping limbs, plumbing issues etc.
  • Photographs Of The Tree
    Photographs of the tree should be provided including photos of the trunk and the whole tree.
  • Completed Development Application Form
    Please complete a development application form and provide a copy as part of your development application.  The form can be found here.
  • Payment Of Fees
     Most development applications involving a significant tree or trees will incur a lodgement fee and planning assessment fee.  These fees are set out in Schedule 6 of the Development Regulations 1993 and are updated annually.
  • Arborist Report
    You may wish to provide your own arborist report which provides an assessment of the health and structure of the tree.

Can A Third Party Lodge A Development Application For Removal Or Pruning Of A Regulated Or Significant Tree?

A neighbour can lodge a development application to seek development approval to prune or remove a regulated or significant tree.  Please note that should Council receive an application by a third party, the application will be referred to the owner of the tree to provide comment.  It is important to note that even if Council approves the removal or pruning of a tree on a neighbouring property, this does not give the applicant the right to act upon the approval – for this you need the owner’s consent.

Should you wish to lodge a development application and you are not the owner of the tree, this will not incur a fee.  Please note that when lodging your application, you will need to provide the same information as an owner would.  Please refer to the section above for documentation required to be provided.

What If Urgent Work Is Needed To Make Trees Safe?

In an emergency situation, work involving a regulated or significant tree can be undertaken without first having received a development approval (under Section 54A of the Development Act). 

Please note that if you intend to lodge a development application under this section of the Act, you will need to first contact an arborist or suitable person in a position to be able to verify that the tree needed to be removed.  In this instance, as soon as practicable after the emergency work is undertaken, the owner of the significant tree must lodge a development application with Council for the work undertaken. 

Further Information

Further information can be found on the State Government website - here.

Please note that the information above is intended as a guide only.  Further clarification of these matters can be obtained from the Development Services Department on 8406 8222 or email