Trees play an integral part in reinforcing our identity as the Garden City, a reputation which many Christchurch residents pride themselves on.

As well as their aesthetic values, trees also provide a range of other essential environmental, economic, cultural and social community benefits.

With the current challenges being faced through climate change, the vital role which trees play in sequestering carbon, cooling through shade and managing stormwater has never been more important.

Given the important role trees play in our urban environment, tree removal will generally be a last resort and we will always look for alternatives. 

Our Tree Policy covers how we manage trees on Council land, including the decision making process for removal.

On Council land, we can remove trees as part of the tree renewal program if the tree is:

  • Dying and unlikely to recover
  • Dead or structurally unsound.
  • Causing significant damage to buildings, services, or property or pose a safety risk to the public. 

We don't remove trees for the following reasons (unless approved under the Tree Policy:)

  • There is a safe and practical means for tree retention.
  • To minimise obstruction of views or commercial signage.
  • To reduce leaf or fruit litter and other debris.
  • To reduce shading.
  • For contributing to allergenic or irritant responses (unless approved under section 4.20 of the policy). 

Decisions relating to the removal of trees which fall outside of the Councils regular tree renewal program are made by the relevant community board.

All decisions relating to the removal of trees on Council owned or administered land are in line with the Tree Policy.

The process to remove a tree on Council land

Request Council inspection

Prior to any application for a tree removal proceeding, an inspection by a Council arborist, or our representative, is required. 

You can request an inspection:

We will assess the tree to determine if it falls within the criteria for tree renewal.  Alternatives to removal will also be explored to address the concerns raised. 

If the tree does not meet the above requirements and no alternative solutions are considered satisfactory, you can submit a tree removal application.

Apply to remove a tree

Request tree removal

Before you apply, make sure your removal request meets the criteria below.

A tree removal application can be submitted under one of the following three categories:

1. Health reasons

Section 4.20 of the Tree Policy.

Requests for removal of the trees will be considered for health reasons where there is confirmation from either the applicant's medical practitioner, a clinical immunologist or the medical officer of health confirming that the trees is/are the sole cause of the applicant's condition and that removal of the trees is the sole most practicable solution to significantly improving the applicant's condition.

 Prior to submitting an application on human health grounds, you will need:

2. Property damage

Section 4.21 of the Tree Policy.

Requests for removal of the trees that are causing property damage will be considered where the damage is confirmed to be a direct result of the tree and where no alternative measures (including engineering solutions) can be used to mitigate the problem.

Prior to submitting an application on property damage grounds, you will need:

3. Other issues

Section 4.22 of the Tree Policy.

Requests for removal of the tree due to other issues will only be approved under exceptional circumstances and will be required to meet all of the criteria below:

  • The issue caused by the tree has a significant effect on the applicants day to day living.
  • The tree is the sole cause of the issue.
  • The issue is not able to be mitigated through general maintenance by the property owner e.g. clearing gutters of leaves.
  • No pruning intervention can be undertaken which will mitigate the issue caused by the tree.
  • No reasonable engineering solution can mitigate the issue caused by the tree.

 Prior to submitting an application on the grounds of other issues, you will need:

A resource consent is likely to be required as part of a tree removal request for other issues if the tree meets any of the following criteria:

  • The tree is greater than 6 m high in the road corridor or 10 m in a park
  • The tree is located in a Character area overlay as prescribed within the District Plan.
  • Within a water body setback (external link)as described in sub-chapter 6.6(external link) Water Body Setbacks in General Rules.
  • The tree is one of the following species:
    • Podocarpus cunninghamii- Hall's totara
    • Prumnopitys taxifolia- matai / black pine
    • Prumnopitys ferruginea- miro
    • Dacrydium cupressinum- rimu
    • Libocedrus bidwillii- kaikawaka / New Zealand cedar
    • Eleocarpus dentatus- hinau
    • Eleocarpus hookerianus- pokaka
    • Griselinea lucida- puka / akapuka / shining broadleaf
    • Hedycarya arborea- pigeonwood
    • Alectryon excelsus- titoki
    • Rhopalostylis sapida- nikau palm
    • Cordyline indivisa- mountain cabbage tree
    • Ulmus horizontalis- horizontal elm
    • Ulmus glabra 'Camperdownii'- camperdown elm

Additional criteria which will be considered

In addition to the criteria listed above, the Community Board will also take into account the following when determining whether or not the tree should be approved for removal.

  • Any significant attributes of the tree such as cultural, ecological, historical, social or contributing to the landscape amenity.
  • Age and size of the tree.
  • Length of time the applicant has resided by the tree and whether it was reasonable for them to have known about the concerns raised prior to them residing there.
  • The useful life expectancy of the tree.
  • Whether mitigation pruning to alleviate the issue should be considered sufficient.
  • Any other attributes provided by the tree that are considered important to the local community.

The Community Board may also require that other residents who live within the vicinity of the tree are advised of the request and given the opportunity to comment either for or against the application.

After you apply

Once your application has been lodged with us, a report will be generated for the relevant Community Board to consider during their next available meeting. 

An email will be sent with a copy of the report to the applicant along with the time and date that it will be considered by the Community Board.

Fees and charges

The cost of reports and any required resource consents associated with the application are charged to the applicant.

If a tree removal request is approved by the Community Board, the board may resolve that the applicant pay part or all of the costs, including:

  • Any additional costs associated with reporting on the tree removal application.
  • Any resource consent costs.
  • The actual cost of tree removal and replacement.
  • The value of the environmental, economic and social services provided to the city by the tree as determined by our approved tree valuation method.