In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)

In a life threatening emergency dial Triple Zero (000)
ACT Public Hospitals

Canberra Hospital

5124 0000

Calvary Hospital

6201 6111

Mental Health

Call Mental Health Triage on

1800 629 354

(free call except from mobiles or public phones) or

6205 1065

Poisons Hotline

For a poison emergency in Australia call


Drug and Alcohol Help Line

The Drug and Alcohol Help Line is available 24-hours, 7 days a week on

5124 9977

Health Protection Service

For after hours urgent public health matters including environmental health, radiation safety, food poisoning and communicable disease management phone:

(02) 6205 1700


24 hour health advice

1800 022 222

ACT State Emergency Service

Emergency help
during flood or storms

132 500

Trees on public land

In the ACT there are over 760,000 trees on suburban streets, at local shopping centres, along major roads and medians, and in parks and open spaces.

We manage and maintain the urban trees on public land to enhance the landscape setting of our city and provide a safe and sustainable urban forest to conserve the natural environment.

We achieve these objectives through the regular:

Tree inspections can be requested by calling Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or via Fix My Street.


Trees in the urban areas of Canberra are inspected periodically to monitor tree health and identify potential hazards that could pose a risk to public safety. Trees in high use areas such as district parks and shopping centres are regularly inspected to identify structural defects and/or other risk factors and address them in a timely manner.

When a member of the public expresses concern regarding public safety or the health of a tree on public land, a site visit is arranged and the subject tree or trees are assessed by qualified staff against a series of criteria.



Routine pruning is carried out to enhance public safety and urban amenity and to improve or maintain tree health. Priority is given to trees in areas of high public use, such as streets, carparks, shopping centres and picnic areas.

Qualified staff carry out the following pruning activities:

  • formative pruning of young trees in the first five years following planting
  • pruning to avoid interference with power lines, street lights and other services
  • removal of lower branches up to a height of three to five metres to give clear pedestrian and traffic access as well as clear sight lines, particularly for vehicles entering and leaving driveways or approaching intersections
  • removal of lower branches to a maximum height of five metres on main roads and major streets
  • thinning of tree crowns to minimise hazards caused by wind and rain
  • general pruning to achieve a balanced weight distribution
  • removal of dead, diseased, cracked, hollow or otherwise unsound wood.

We adopt a conservative policy towards the removal of live trees on public land.

Trees are removed when:

  • they are dead, damaged or in irreversible decline
  • they constitute a traffic hazard/other identifiable hazard to public safety which cannot be corrected by pruning
  • they are interfering with above or below-ground services such as power lines or water pipes and the problem is likely to require repeated remedial action.

Trees are considered for removal when:

  • the tree is an unsuitable species for where it is planted, for example poplars and willows near stormwater lines
  • they are deemed unsuitable for a location in conflict with the design intent of the landscape
  • they are part of a dense planting which requires thinning to promote the health of the remaining trees
  • they were designated as temporary in the original landscape design and have reached the end of their intended life span.

Trees are not removed due to:

  • householder preference for no street tree or for a different species
  • appearance (unless this is related to very poor tree health)
  • concerns about leaf litter, twigs, fruit or seed material, or droppings from wildlife
  • solar access
  • tree roots protruding above the ground or competing with lawns.

If it is necessary to remove a living tree from a nature strip, regardless of whether the tree was planted by the ACT Government or the householder, the resident will be notified. Consultation will be more extensive where a group of trees are to be removed. Where the site and surrounding services allow, a tree of an appropriate species will be replanted in a similar location.

Unless you have written approval, you cannot remove a public tree.

Habitat Retention

Mature native trees which are dead, damaged or in irreversible decline may be pruned and retained in the landscape where they:

  • provide habitat for wildlife such as through hollows
  • are a remnant of the original vegetation of the ACT, or have regenerated from one
  • are in a location where they do not constitute an identifiable hazard to public safety.

Habitat trees are created by pruning the main branches to leave a 'totem' with exposed hollows to provide habitat for birds and animals. In certain cases, artificial hollows and/or nest boxes may be added to enhance habitat.


Tree replacement is an important part of the maintenance of Canberra's public landscape. Where trees are identified and/or scheduled for replacement, every effort is made to consult with the community about the reasons for replacement.

Routine tree replacement

Trees in parks or streets that have been removed or are missing are routinely replanted in our biannual planting seasons to maintain the original landscape of the area as trees mature.

Strategic tree replacement

Groups of ageing trees in parks and streets may be part of a strategic tree replacement program. Parks and streets where aging trees need to be removed and replaced are identified and, subject to funding, replaced with new trees. This ensures the look and feel of the urban landscape is retained for future generations. Local residents are informed of the reasons for the replacement of street trees and, where a change of species is required, are consulted to ensure their wishes are taken into consideration.

Tree damage claim procedures

When a tree on public land is suspected of causing damage to private property, you should follow the procedures for public claims of reimbursement. Each claim request is assessed on its merits by a qualified staff member and, if found to be legitimate, costs associated with repairs may be reimbursed.

There are four types of claims that can be made against damage caused by public trees:

For further information call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or enquire via Fix My Street.

Useful information