Maintaining trees in our City

Find out about tree maintenance requests, residents responsibilities for trees on private property, protecting trees on Council land and significant trees.
Mature tree and palms in Catani Gardens maintained by our Parks team

Trees grow in a delicate balance with their environment. It's important for us all to do our best to protect and maintain them by minimising any changes to that balance, allowing them to remain healthy and live a long life.

We maintain the trees in our City by planting, mulching and pruning trees, treating root damage, assessing unhealthy trees for removal, and managing powerline clearance.

We encourage landowners and residents to assist us in the maintenance of our city’s urban forest by:

Maintenance requests

Tree maintenance requests are one of the most common requests we receive in Port Phillip. Watch the video below to hear Greg and Jack from our Trees team tell you more about what we can and can’t do when it comes to pruning trees.

You can contact us with requests for a street or park tree to be pruned or assessed for removal as well as if you have concerns regarding tree root damage or a general tree enquiry.

Please send requests and location details using Online Services, the Snap Send Solve app or by calling ASSIST on 03 9209 6777.

Once your request is received, a tree maintenance request will be generated and directed to our Park Services team for action.

Electrical Line Clearance Compliance 

Our responsibilities and obligations

City of Port Phillip has an obligation to manage its trees on behalf of the community. This is done in accordance with our Greening Port Phillip strategy and the goals and objectives from the Council Plan and Budget. A primary objective of the strategy is the retention of our existing tree canopy. This is always considered when deciding on appropriate tree management practices.

We also have a responsibility to comply with state legislation, including the Electricity Safety (Electric Line Clearance) Regulations 2020 (ELC regulations). The ELC regulations are made under sections 151, 151A and 157 of the Electricity Safety Act 1998 and incorporates activities under the Electricity Safety (Bushfire Mitigation) Regulations 2013.

The ELC regulations outline the clearance distances required between trees and electrical assets such as powerlines. These distances must always be maintained. Non-compliant trees pose a risk of fire, power outages, service reliability and electrocution to operators attempting to manage the trees.

As the Responsible Authority for compliance with the ELC regulations, Energy Safe Victoria has notified all Councils that as of 1 July 2022, penalty notices will be issued for non-compliance with the ELC regulations.

Historically, trees in Port Phillip have been managed for amenity and in some instances, this resulted in minor non-compliance with previous iterations of the ELC regulations.

We understand that trees are highly appreciated by our community. For more valued trees, we are commissioning engineering solutions works. Engineering solutions can include replacement of uninsulated wires with Aerial Bundled Cables and relocation of cross-arms. These works incur a considerable cost and are not viable for all non-compliant trees.

Energy Safe Victoria's updated penalties for non-compliance means we must adhere to the clearance obligations imposed by the ELC regulations. This will result in some trees having large limbs removed and, if there are no viable management options available, trees being removed.

Trees on private property

Residents are responsible for ensuring that pedestrian access to paths and traffic sight lines are not blocked by trees and vegetation on their property.

If you would like to undertake tree work or seek advice about tree maintenance on your property, please contact a qualified arborist.

Reporting low-hanging branches

To report low-hanging branches over a footpath from a tree on private property, please call our ASSIST line on 03 9209 6777 with the location and other details, lodge your request using Online Services or the Snap Send Solve app on your phone.

A Local Laws officer will then contact the property owners to request they undertake the pruning in a specified timeframe. Council does not prune back or maintain trees on private property.

Protecting trees on Council land

Trees on Council owned and managed land must be protected from construction works and other activities. This protection is in place to reduce the negative impacts of construction on the health of our trees.

All development works near public trees must follow these requirements:

  • Establishment of a Tree Protection Zone (TPZ) for the duration of any works
  • Preparation of a Tree Protection Management Plan for all construction related activities where any demolition or construction activity encroaches a TPZ.

The preferred method for installation of underground services within a TPZ is boring.

Public trees cannot be pruned or have branches removed by anyone other than those authorised by Council.

For more details, please see the Tree Protection Fact Sheet (DOCX 86 KB).

Significant Trees

Council does not have authority over trees on private property except in exceptional circumstances.

The main exception is when a tree is considered significant under the Local Law No.1 Community Amenity 2013.

The National Trust holds a significant tree register which includes several public trees throughout the City of Port Phillip. To find out if your tree is significant, search the Significant Tree Register.

Residents are required to seek permission to remove or prune significant trees on their property.

Please visit the Significant Tree Permit page for more information and permit application details.

If you have further questions regarding tree protection, please contact us.

Fusarium wilt

Fusarium wilt is a serious disease that affects Canary Island Date Palms in Australia. Council’s tree management staff and tree contractor are familiar with identifying and managing Fusarium Wilt. An inspection of all palms on Council managed land is undertaken annually.

Council is currently working to remove a number of diseased palms throughout Port Phillip.

Contact Park Services

Online: Online Services
Phone: 03 9209 6777
Post: Park Services, City of Port Phillip, Private Bag No. 3, St Kilda PO VIC 3182

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