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Urban Forest Bill 2022 Passed


This week the ACT Legislative Assembly has passed the Urban Forest Bill 2022.

The Government has said:

  • This new legislation will ensure our city’s trees are protected as Canberra continues to grow and creates a sound framework to reach our ambitious target of 30 per cent tree canopy cover or equivalent by 2045.
  • The first priority of this legislation is incentivising developers to keep existing trees. However, If a tree has to be given approval to be removed then the tree must be replaced, which was wasn’t previously required.
  • There will be significant penalties for damaging trees before, during and after work takes place.

The MBA has raised concerns about the mixed messages this legislation sends about future development. On the one hand Government policy is encouraging 70% of new development within the existing urban footprint, however this legislation seeks to protect potential development areas by retaining existing trees or requiring payment of a fee to remove them.

We believe a better way of managing these issues would be through design guidelines or development codes in the new Territory Plan. We remain concerned that this legislation establishes an approval process to remove trees which will sit outside of the development approval process resulting in an un-integrated assessment process.

We welcome the delayed commencement for the new legislation, which means it will come into effect on 1 January 2024. This will allow time for the Government to work with the community and industry to raise awareness of what is changing under the new legislation and how it affects residents and businesses as well as building a new IT system to implement the reform.

This revised commencement date also responds to feedback (including from Master Builders ACT) on the Bill from the Inquiry Report into the Urban Forest Bill 2022 by the Standing Committee on Planning, Transport and City Services.

The key changes introduced by this Bill include:

  • introducing new requirements to ensure when trees are approved for removal, they are replaced through new planting. Where new planting is not possible, a financial contribution will be required which will go towards funding the planting of more trees.
  • introduces a tree bond system to ensure trees are not damaged during construction work as our city continues to grow.
  • expanding the ACT Tree Register which celebrates and protects our most significant trees. Trees with Aboriginal cultural heritage will be automatically nominated for assessment, and the public will be able to nominate trees for their ecological significance, in addition to their landscape, aesthetic, cultural, and scientific value; and
  • improving the compliance provisions including introduction of penalties for people caught damaging a tree or breaching a tree protection plan or direction.

To view the Urban Forest Bill 2022 visit Urban Forest Bill 2022 | Bills (