Native Vegetation and Tree Removal

Native vegetation includes all plants that are indigenous to Victoria, including trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses. This includes areas of bushland with trees, scattered paddock trees, and treeless areas of scrub or grassland. In fact, some of the rarest or threatened vegetation types such as native grasslands, and wetlands do not include trees at all. 

All native vegetation is protected in Victoria.

It can be difficult for people who are not trained botanists, horticulturalists or natural resource managers to identify areas of native vegetation that does not include trees.

Removing native vegetation

A Planning Permit is often required if you want to remove, lop or destroy native vegetation.

If you think you may need to remove, lop or destroy native vegetation, you must first contact the council to check if you require a permit. Do not damage, destroy or remove native vegetation dead or alive on your property before contacting the council, as penalties and costly remediation works can apply.

Detailed guidance on native vegetation removal from the State Government can be found in the Guide to Exemptions.

You can also see the detailed information held at the Department for Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) website.

Some of our native plants and vegetation communities are listed as rare and threatened due to habitat loss. Rare and threatened plant species are protected under State legislation (Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988) and Federal legislation (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). Heavy penalties apply to people that deliberately damage or destroy rare and threatened plant species and their floristic communities.

Native vegetation is not just trees but includes all native shrubs, herbs, climbers, flowers and grasses. Native vegetation is important in our landscape to assist with maintaining ecological and landscape processes as well as providing amenity value.

Landholders often “clean up” their property out of concern about fire or snakes but do not realise that “cleaning up” by felling trees, removing shrubs, mowing, burning or spraying may be illegal and they may be having a detrimental impact on the habitat and amenity value of their property.

If you are unsure about whether the vegetation on your property is native or not, contact the council for advice.

The Victorian State Government Guidelines for the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation applies three principles:

  • Avoid the vegetation removal
  • Minimise the vegetation removal
  • Offset the removal to compensate for the loss.

With up to 66% of Victoria’s native vegetation having been cleared, this approach aims to result in no further loss of native vegetation across Victoria.

Yes. Under Clause 52.17 of the Northern Grampians Planning Scheme, a permit is required to remove, destroy or lop native vegetation on your property. The terms remove, destroy or lop include mowing, slashing, spraying with herbicide, pruning, digging out, raking, burning or the removal of timber.

Clause 52.17 of the Planning Scheme contains a list of exemptions. Check with the council to determine if your proposed works are exempt from the provisions.

If you are unsure, please contact the council for guidance.

You can apply for a planning permit via our Online Building and Planning Portal (Greenlight).

You may clear native vegetation to the minimum extent necessary to build your boundary fence. Council consent must be sought prior to removing vegetation on the road reserve outside your property. The maximum total width of clearing permitted for your fence is four metres although clearance less than this is preferred.

Clearing native vegetation to construct internal fences on your property requires a Planning Permit. Check with the council before undertaking any works.


Native vegetation on a roadside is protected. Check with council before undertaking any works.


Vegetation that is an immediate risk of personal injury or damage to property can be removed without a permit. By immediate, it is inferred that the tree or limb is in imminent danger of falling and is a direct threat to personal safety. In some situations a professional arborists report may be required. Check with the council before undertaking any works.


A Planning Permit is required to remove large standing dead trees with a trunk diameter greater than 40cm at a height of 1.3m above ground level. Large dead trees and tree hollows provide important habitat. The removal of other dead vegetation does not require a permit unless the land is subject to a Planning Scheme Overlay. It pays to check with the council first.

Landholders are encouraged to retain some dead and fallen material within existing native vegetation as this provides valuable habitat for wildlife.


The collection of a reasonable amount of firewood for personal use is permitted under an exemption. For the purpose of this exemption personal use means uses such as heating and cooking, building and fence construction on land, and hobbies such as arts and craft.

This exemption does not apply to:

  • contiguous land in one ownership that has an area of less than 10 hectares;
  • the removal, destruction or lopping of native vegetation by means other than cutting or chopping; or
  • a standing native tree (including a dead tree) with a trunk diameter of 40 centimetres or more at a height of 1.3 metres above ground level. 

Collection of firewood from some forest reserves is managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning who can be contacted on 136 186.