Before any tree can be included in the register it needs to meet our “tree focused” assessment and classification criteria.

The criteria are divided into five basic categories:

  1. Outstanding visual or aesthetic significance
  2. Botanic or scientific significance
  3. Significant ecological value
  4. Historical and commemorative significance
  5. Social significance

In developing the criteria, we were guided by established and tested practices in heritage identification and assessment. This included the general principles outlined in the Burra Charter and the NSW Heritage Office’s Manual for Assessing Heritage Significance.

More detailed assessment criteria have been listed within each category. These help people understand the assessment process and provide a consistent analytical approach for the City and its experts in assessing the nominated trees.

Assessment process

Before trees are listed on the register, our experts assess them through systematic research, field work and documentation.

Typically, for a tree to be considered for listing, it needs to satisfy at least two of the selection criteria. This is especially important if the primary motivation for listing is simply visual or aesthetic value.

Our criteria for listing trees are based on a qualitative assessment of their value and worth. This limits subjectivity and provides a robust and defendable selection process.

Our experts:

  • conduct a thorough physical examination of each nominated tree
  • assess each tree and species in relation to its natural occurrence
  • research the cultural history, when relevant, through reports, photographs, archival material and oral evidence
  • evaluate the collected data on the basis of each tree’s contextual relationship to other similar trees and its relative importance.

The selection process involved consulting with the community. Before drawing up the register, the City invited the public to nominate trees and make submissions; exhibited the draft register and contracted a panel of independent experts to review the listings.

The selection criteria cater for the enormous variety of trees encountered in our survey. They also take account the importance of “place”, giving an understanding of the value of particular specimens or groups of trees within the broader landscape and urban forest.

For example, a resident might nominate a large Lemon Scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora) growing in the neighbour’s yard. The tree is only 20-years old and the neighbour likes the tree and wants it protected. The tree may satisfy the aesthetic criteria, however this is not consider sufficient alone for inclusion in the register. As this is a common species and is not of any great botanic or scientific value, and the tree does not have great ecological significance, and is not associated with any historical event, nor does it have any strong social significance, it would not be eligible for listing on the register.

Protecting other valuable trees

Large and beautiful trees are protected even though they may not satisfy the requirements for listing in the register.

In terms of the City’s overarching Tree Management Policy, all trees are valued and are subject to our Tree Management Controls (City Plan and Development Control Plan). This latter document gives the requirements for protecting and retaining trees within the City’s control.

Listing on the register does not automatically prevent a tree from being removed in the future. But it does mean we will watch more closely for any development or activity that impacts on the long-term health, enjoyment and visual or historical association surrounding the tree or group of trees.