Tree and bushland vandalism

Tree poisoning and vandalism in both bush reserves and on private property is a growing problem with hundreds of vandalism incidents going unreported.

Every case of tree vandalism costs ratepayers. How?

  • Rehabilitation of a site back to its natural state.
  • Significant Council resources in both time and money spent investigating and finding the perpetrator(s).
  • Ensuring compliance with replacing what was lost.
  • Creation and promotion of signage to drive awareness and find the culprits.
  • Immeasurable loss of established or mature trees and plants that makes us a ‘green city’.

Image: Northbridge private property – illegal removal of 16 x 150 year old grass trees.

A tree shouldn't die for a view (or for solar panels)

Trees are of immense value to our community. They beautify the streets and enhance property values, help protect us from climate change, provide shade, clean the air, absorb carbon emissions, provide vital habitat for wildlife and enhance physical and mental wellbeing.

In a global city like Sydney facing increasing pressure from urban growth and climate change, we need to protect our remaining bushland, street and urban trees more than ever. Established or mature trees and plants take years or generations to grow, and cannot be replaced quickly.

Everyone can help protect our bushland and wildlife.

Report tree or bushland vandalism

Chatswood West private property – illegal removal of large gum treeRing 02 9777 1000 immediately if you see or hear anything suspicious in the removal of trees or bushland. This number operates 24/7 and it is important to call straight away if you observe destructive action taking place as a Ranger can attend the site quickly to speak with anyone involved. It’s better to report than to assume that the activity, either on private or public land, has Council approval.

Tree and bushland vandalism is defined as the unlawful destruction, damage or injury to trees and vegetation on community and private land. Examples include poisoning, major pruning, removal and ringbarking.

Reports of tree or bushland vandalism are treated confidentially and will be acted on immediately by a Ranger.

As determined by the Vegetation Management Guidelines, an investigation will occur and an offence under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (1979) can incur a penalty of up to $1.1 million. Rewards of up to $10,000 can be offered for information leading to the successful prosecution of some tree or bushland vandalism actions.

Image: Chatswood West private property – illegal removal of large gum tree.

How to prevent acts of vandalism

  • Keep a watch on the trees in your neighbourhood and bushland areas
  • If you suspect trees or shrubs are being wilfully damaged such as hearing a chainsaw operating at unusual times or seeing chemicals being used in bushland contact our 24 hour response line on 02 9777 1000 immediately.
  • Encourage your neighbours and friends to be alert to tree vandalism and other forms of environmental damage, such as litter dumping and weeds.
  • Join a Bushcare group and get to know the local community.
  • Consider planting native trees and shrubs in your garden.

Our largest tree vandalism site

H.D. Robb Reserve vandalism - July 2023

An extreme act of bushland vandalism within H.D. Robb Reserve, off Willowie Road, Castle Cove was discovered in July 2023.

Find out more about the vandalism and its environmental impact