Tree protection

Photo of woman running through native bush.

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.

We aim 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 where the tree/trees are growing. 

Notable trees have special protection and are listed individually or in stands in the District Plan. You can find the list in District Plan or view the locations in our GIS Maps. 

Notable trees in District Plan

There are many rules relating to the trimming and removal of heritage trees and these are outlined in the Notable and Public Trees chapter of the District Plan.

Any trees that are listed in the Notable and Public Trees chapter are protected and work cannot be undertaken on them without first obtaining approval from us.

The Notable and Public Trees chapter can be found under Part 2 of the District Plan.

Operative District Plan

Viewing notable trees in GIS maps

You can view locations of notable and public trees on our District Plan map. To view the notable trees:

  1. open the District Plan map
  2. click on 'Layers' within the toolbar
  3. click on the 'lines with a tick icon' on the right side of the layers list
  4. select 'turn all layers off'
    Image showing how to select the layer for notable trees within the map.
  5. tick 'District Plan Resource Areas' to turn on layer.

Notable trees will be displayed within the map as a 'tree' icon Image showing what a notable tree icon looks like. .

District Plan in GIS Maps Gallery

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.

District Plan change process

Public trees policy

Our Management of Public Trees Policy provides guidance for dealing with the management of public trees that are generally located within road reserves, parks and reserves administered by us.

Management of Public Trees Policy

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 us.

Resource consents

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 that 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.