Project status: In progress

How you had YourSay

Thanks to everyone who provided a submission on the Draft Urban Forest Bill.

The community and stakeholders were invited to provide submissions on the Draft Urban Forest Bill from 21 April 2022 to 2 June 2022. During the six-week consultation we received 66 submissions in total including 26 submissions from organisations representing diverse sectors and interests.

A What We Heard Report which summarises the key themes from the consultation is now available.

Feedback received during the consultation helped refine the Urban Forest Bill 2022, which was introduced in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday 3 August 2022.

The Urban Forest Bill 2022 has a proposed commencement date of 1 July 2023, subject to it being passed by the Legislative Assembly.

We are looking at

Following an extensive review of the Tree Protection Act 2005 and introduction of the ACT Urban Forest Strategy, the ACT Government is introducing new legislation to further strengthen and improve how we manage trees. The proposed new Urban Forest Bill 2022 will repeal and replace the Tree Protection Act 2005 to improve tree protection on both public and private land and encourage shared care of trees by the ACT Government, industry and the community.

The draft Bill proposes keeping and expanding the main elements of the Tree Protection Act 2005, including protection for large trees on private land (regulated trees), the ACT Tree Register (which recognises exceptional trees) and penalties for those who damage trees without approval. The tree damage application process and criteria for tree removal would be updated to provide greater clarity and streamline the approval process.

Canberrans will be encouraged to consider different sustainable design options when building new structures to safely retain mature trees for current and future generations. The Bill also proposes introducing a tree bond scheme and a canopy contribution framework to ensure that trees are protected, and that when trees are removed, they are replaced.

Community and industry feedback received during the review Tree Protection Act 2005 was used in the development the Draft Urban Forest Bill.

We used your views to

Feedback received during the consultation helped refine the Urban Forest Bill 2022, which was introduced in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday 3 August 2022.

Some of the changes to the Bill as a result of feedback include:

  • transitional provisions have been improved to assist industry to adjust to the new elements introduced by the Bill
  • exemptions from the canopy contribution framework will apply automatically for applicants who receive approval to remove a tree under urgent circumstances, to remove a dead tree, or to remove a tree where replanting advice has been issued under the Heritage Act 2004 to streamline the exemption process
  • reporting and review requirements have been updated to include a review of the Act after it has been in operation for two years, this will ensure we measure our progress towards protecting the urban forest
  • extra safeguards have been added including clear review rights for representative Aboriginal organisations on cultural trees and clear statements that offences will not apply where a person could not comply with the law due to a reasonable excuse. This will uphold cultural rights and offer fair and reasonable treatment to all.

The Urban Forest Bill 2022 has a proposed commencement date of 1 July 2023, subject to it being passed by the Legislative Assembly.

Feedback from the consultation will inform how we administer the new legislation and assist industry and the wider community to adapt to the changes.