Tree protection

Ecosystems and biodiversity values are considered when identifying how special a piece of native bush is and what degree of protection it should be given. 

Tree rules in the District Plan

The aim of the rules is to protect specific trees that the community has identified as having heritage value, and to protect large areas of bush that have well-developed ecosystems and high biodiversity.

Our approach when contacted about tree felling is to look at each individual situation to assess it against the parts of the District Plan that relate to the environment (zone) of the land the tree or trees are growing in. 

We also take into account other matters covered in the Outstanding and Notable Landscapes part of the plan, if they apply.

To allow for changes in the community's expectations and values over time, the Plan can be changed through the plan change process which involves formal consultation including submissions, hearings, reports and decisions.

Restrictions on tree felling

If an area of native bush is one hectare or more and most of the trees are over six metres in height, or if the area of bush is five hectares or more, regardless of the height of the trees, clearance is permitted if:

  • It is in accordance with an existing use right.
  • It is no more than 500 square metres and is for a house site or for access to a house site or existing farming or forestry activities.
  • The trees present a danger to human life or existing structures (including network utilities).
  • It is necessary for maintenance of any building, structure, road or track including any telecommunication work or utility service.
  • It is for a fence to keep out stock or pests.
  • It is beneath a canopy of a production forest.
  • It is to form and maintain walking tracks less than 1.2 metres wide using manual methods that do not require the removal of any indigenous tree over 300mm girth.
  • It is for a fire break constructed by a rural fire authority.
  • It is in accordance with Māori custom or values for harvesting indigenous timber under a Sustainable Management Plan or Permit under the Forests Act 1949.

If the clearance does not comply with one of these conditions, then it will require a discretionary activity resource consent from Council.

Small stands of bush

Small stands of bush generally have compromised ecosystems and unless they are covenanted, they are subject to less protection within the District Plan.

Tree felling in these circumstances is subject to a number of rules:

  • If an area of native trees is less than one hectare in size (for example a clump of trees surrounded by pasture) and most of the trees in the clump are more than six metres in height, trees can be felled without a resource consent, unless the trees are covenanted.
    The rules differ slightly in the Outstanding and Notable Landscapes environments.
  • If the area of bush is up to five hectares in size and most of the trees are not likely to be much more than five metres tall they can be felled without a resource consent so long as the trees are not covenanted.
  • Native bush (indigenous vegetation) includes kanuka and manuka. These trees are different species but both are often referred to as tea tree. Kanuka can grow much taller than and live much longer than manuka.


Throughout the district, more than 700 areas of bush, wetland, duneland, scrub, and river margins have been covenanted by private land owners.

Covenants are a voluntary but legally binding way to ensure areas of ecological significance are protected from development, clearance and damage by stock.

Covenants can be created both voluntarily or through the conditions of a resource consent. Felling of trees in covenanted areas is banned.

Heritage trees

Heritage trees have special protection and are listed individually or in stands under the heritage tree list in the District Plan.

Heritage trees can be on private land or on publicly-owned land. All trees over 6m tall growing on Council land are heritage trees.

There are many rules relating to the trimming and removal of heritage trees and these are outlined in Chapter 59 of the District Plan.

Heritage status means those trees are protected and work cannot be undertaken on them without first obtaining approval from the Council.

Notable and public trees chapter of the district plan(PDF, 293KB)