About significant trees

Significant trees are outstanding trees that receive a higher level of protection because of their impressive size, age, rarity, ecological value or cultural and historical significance. A significant tree can be a single tree or a group of trees and may be on private or public land.

Nominating a tree

If you think a tree should be recognised for its outstanding qualities – whether it’s in your garden, someone else’s garden, on a nature strip, or in a public park – you can nominate for it for assessment.

Nominating a tree provides potential to promote, share and protect trees that are believed to be significant and owners of properties where significant trees are located play an important role caring for valuable community assets.

If you are aware of an outstanding tree that might qualify as a significant tree, follow Steps 1 to 3 below to nominate it for recognition and protection.

What will having a tree declared significant mean?

If your nominated tree is declared significant by the Planning Scheme Amendment process, it will be protected by an appropriate overlay.

This means any proposed buildings and works within the tree protection zone, or significant pruning, lopping or removal of significant trees, will require a planning permit. This does not mean that absolutely no works are allowed on or near the tree or trees, but that the impact of proposed development on the trees’ health and value, must be considered in the planning permit application process. Referrals to arborists and/or horticulturalists may be required to assess proposals that may impact the health or value of significant trees.

Steps in the nomination process

Before you nominate a tree for additional protection, check if it’s already protected in the following documents:

When you nominate a tree for protection, we assess it based on several factors:

  • Aesthetic value: A tree of outstanding aesthetic significance.
  • Age and vulnerability: A tree which is particularly old or vulnerable.
  • Curious growth form: A tree which exhibits a curious growth form or physical feature such as abnormal outgrowths, natural fusion or branches, severe lightning damage, or unusually pruned forms.
  • Historical value: A tree commemorating a particular occasion (including plantings by Royalty) or having associations with an important historical event. Significant place associations. Social significance.
  • Horticultural value: A tree which is of horticultural or genetic value and could be an important source of propagating stock, including specimens that are particularly resistant to disease or exposure. Association with scientific/technical innovations.
  • Indigenous culture: A tree associated with Indigenous activities.
  • Location or context: A tree which occurs in a unique location or context and so provides a contribution to the landscape, including remnant native vegetation, important landmarks, and trees which form part of an historic garden, park or town.
  • Outstanding example of species: A tree that is an outstanding example of the species.
  • Outstanding size: A tree outstanding for its large height, trunk circumference, or canopy spread.
  • Rare or localised: A tree or species or variety that is rare or of very localised distribution.

If you think the tree will fit one or more of the criteria, continue to the next step.

Nominate a significant tree via the online Significant Tree Nomination Form.

Please note the formal assessment of these trees is unlikely to begin until mid 2024

Note: If you’re nominating a tree on private property, we encouraged you to let the property owner know that you’re nominating their tree. There is a section in the nomination form where you can include their details.

Within 28 days of receiving your nomination Council officers will undertake a desktop assessment to determine if the nomination fits the criteria.

Note: This may take longer if it is determined that a site inspection is required (subject to government restrictions). Council officers will contact you if this is required.

Nominations that proceed through to step 6 will be referred to a suitability qualified consultant for assessment. It will be at this stage that it will be confirmed whether the tree or group of trees are significant and if they warrant protection under the Cardinia Planning Scheme, for example, by applying the Heritage Overlay (HO) or the Environmental Significance Overlay (ESO).

Please note that Council will be undertaking this process every four years. This will allow it to align with the four year Council cycle and provide sufficient financial resources and officer time to be allocated to this process. The next round of trees to be assessed will commence mid 2024.

Council will prepare a final list of trees recommended by the consultant to proceed to a Planning Scheme Amendment.

Council officers will prepare all Planning Scheme Amendment documents and request Authorisation from Councillors to prepare the Amendment.

A Planning Scheme Amendment request will be sent to the State Government and the Amendment process will commence.