A Guide To Vegetation Protection Orders And The Role Of Level 5 Arborist Services

In accordance with the Natural Assets Local Law 2003 (NALL), the Brisbane City Council has the jurisdiction to safeguard important vegetation throughout the city by means of a Vegetation Protection Order (VPO). 

Having protected vegetation on a property or development site does not preclude one from using the land or managing vegetation; it simply means that Councils may request arborist reports and assessments to support an application for these operations. This means that AQF level 5 Arborist services in Brisbane are required to prepare an arborist’s report for the assessment and advice of any Council application to carry out work on protected vegetation. 

Understanding VPOs and identifying whether a property or development site contains protected vegetation are the first steps to working in accordance with Vegetation Protection Orders. 

  1. What Exactly Is A Vegetation Protection Order(VPO)? 

VPOs do not exist to halt the progress promised by urban and commercial development projects; they exist to protect vegetation and balance the city’s environment, people, infrastructure, lifestyle and wildlife. 

a) What Makes VPOs A Necessity: If maintenance or any other operations to a protected tree is carried out without the supervision, assessment and advice of a sufficiently qualified expert, it might lead to property damage, injury to people utilising the site or irrevocable damage to protected vegetation.

b) The Purpose Of A VPO: An old Aboriginal proverb provides a beautiful insight into the necessity of Vegetation Protection Orders: 

“Our spirituality is oneness and an interconnectedness with all that lives and breathes, even with all that does not live or breathe.”  

The essence of a VPO strives to uphold this sentiment. Brisbane City Council issues VPOs under the Natural Assets Local Law 2003, with the declared purpose of achieving a “balance between protecting the city’s environment and people, property and lifestyle.” 

Vegetation Protection Orders are in place to ensure: 

  • The protection of the city’s biodiversity values, including but not limited to the habitat and ecological requirements of native flora and fauna.
  • Preservation of natural topography such as ridgelines and steep slopes.
  • Preservation of landforms such as waterways, wetlands and bushlands.
  • Retention of the city’s landscape character, as well as its historical and cultural values. 
  1. Identifying Whether A Development Site Contains A Vegetation Protection Order 

VPOs are issued in areas where the vegetation is at risk of being destroyed, especially when the vegetation holds significance, whether cultural or academic, or whether they are particularly aesthetic or vital to the sustainability of urban forests, home to wildlife and preservation of threatened species.  

These orders are prevalent in areas of urban development where native flora and fauna need ongoing protection. 

a) Preliminary Indications: Good indications that there is protected vegetation on a property or development site include whether it:

  • Is located near or on a river or waterway corridor;
  • Is situated in a bushland area or rural area
  • Contains large (significant) trees, especially within an area of urban development, and
  • Holds heritage or cultural significance.

b) Affirming Vegetation Protection Orders With Certainty: To determine if there is protected vegetation within a property or development site, the Brisbane City Council must be contacted directly to complete a property search. 

  1. An Arborist’s Role In Vegetation Protection Orders 

To obtain a true balance between the city’s infrastructure and the land on which it is built, an AQF Level 5 Arborist’s services are instrumental.  

a) Overcoming And Understanding Legislation: VPOs are lawful documents that exist in accordance with the Natural Assets Local Law 2003 (NALL). This type of legislation may differ between states. An arborist’s services and expertise pertain to planning procedures that fall within local and state government jurisdiction and compliance while also upholding a reverence and responsibility to the land with which we are intertwined. 

b) Supporting Applications For Management On Protected Vegetation: One would be required to give an arborist report on the vegetation if an application was based on the vegetation presenting any immediate danger or hazard. An Arborist Report will assist the Brisbane City Council in evaluating an application for removing or managing hazardous vegetation protected by the NALL. 

However, even then, it does not guarantee approval. Bear in mind that only applications submitted correctly will be considered. So a consulting Level 5 Arborist’s services are absolutely vital. 

c) Risk And Impact Assessments: In cases where the application proposes to completely remove protected vegetation due to its health or to carry out significant works on vegetation that may result in its structure being altered the Council will request that an Arborist conduct a tree risk assessment based on data collected, including relevant faults, damage and defects, pests and diseases, and identify potential for failure and assign a risk rating that takes any consequences into account. 

 Arborist Services In Brisbane 

At Treescience, we are fully acquainted with the by-laws, vegetation protection orders and permits applicable to each government area in Queensland and New South Wales, including those of the Brisbane City Council. 

We consult with numerous state government agencies and advise municipalities on technical urban forestry designs and tree-related construction procedures. Additionally, Treescience has developed several regulations and recommendations for municipal governments describing best practices for urban forestry management and green engineering solutions. 

As a result of our in-depth knowledge of the law and Vegetation Protection Orders and Urban Forestry Preservation ensures that our team can provide Level 5 Arborist services in Brisbane, tailored to each relevant assessment and reporting prerequisite. Get in touch today.