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First Australian standard for protection of trees on development sites

Arborists and building developers now have an agreed framework for the protection and preservation of trees during all stages of a development project with the first Australian Standard covering tree protection on construction sites now available.

AS 4970-2009 Protection of trees on development sites provides arborists, architects, builders, engineers, land managers, landscape architects, contractors, planners and building surveyors with tree management guidelines for the proper care and protection of trees retained and integrated into construction projects. It includes guidance on how to decide which trees should be retained and the means of protecting those trees during construction work. Guidelines on how to calculate the tree and crown area requiring protection and isolation from construction activities and the use of tree protection measures such as barriers and protectors are also covered.

Key to the Australian Standard is the requirement that procedures must be in place to protect trees at every stage of the development process, including from the earliest planning of an outdoor event or the initial design of a new development, where trees are present.

John Tucker, CEO of Standards Australia said the new Standard is an Australian first, representing an important step forward in promoting sustainable and environmentally friendly building practices.

“Trees provide valuable environmental and social benefits to our urban environments. Inadequate development design, planning and supervision can have drastic impacts on the long-term survival and protection of trees well after construction is completed,” he said.

“This new Australian Standard recognises the importance trees play in our daily lives and provides the building and tree care industries with a uniform, agreed approach to protecting and retaining trees as part of the building development process,” said Tucker.

“Until now, developers, planning ministers, local councils and arborists have had no consistent methodology for protecting trees retained on construction sites. This Australian Standard provides guidelines for tree management that have been agreed by government, arboriculturists and the building industry,” he said.

With no regulations currently governing tree management during development, the voluntary Australian Standard is attracting interest from local councils in Victoria and New South Wales looking to introduce mandatory guidelines to protect trees on development sites. Danny Draper, Chair of the Standards Australia Arboriculture Committee responsible for developing the Standard said the certainty provided by the Australian Standard will assist in dispute matters between consulting arboriculturists, local councils and Local and Environment Courts and be beneficial for the costing and application of tree protection measures by the building industry.

City of Sydney Council has already applied guidelines stipulated by the Australian Standard to a development project to upgrade the Victoria Park playground in Camperdown, NSW.

Requirements in the Australian Standard include:

  • – conducting a detailed topographical site survey
  • – undertaking a preliminary tree assessment and arboricultural report
  • – the restriction of activities in tree protection zones including the dumping of waste, machine excavation, storage and preparation of chemicals, and physical damage to trees
  • – the erection of protective fencing around the tree protection zone prior to machinery or materials brought to the site
  • – the use of approved signs to identify the tree protection zone
  • – mulching, watering and weed removal recommendations to maintain the tree protection zone
  • – regular monitoring of tree protection in adherence with the approved tree protection plan throughout the development process.
  • Standards Australia’s Committee EV-018 Arboriculture comprises representatives from:

  • • Australian Council of National Trusts
  • • Australian Institute of Building Surveyors
  • • Australian Institute of Horticulture
  • • Australian Institute of Landscape Architects
  • • Australian Local Government Association
  • • Australian Pipeline Industry Association
  • • Australian Property Institute
  • • Energy Networks Association
  • • Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists
  • • International Society of Arboriculture (Australia chapter)
  • • Local Government Tree Resources Association
  • • National Arborists Association of Australia
  • • Nursery and Garden Industry Australia
  • • Parks and Leisure Australia
  • • TAFE NSW The University of Melbourne
  • • Water Services Association of Australia
  • Assistance was also provided by representatives from:

  • • National Trusts of Australia NSW
  • • Wollongong City Council AS 4970-2009
  • Protection of trees on development sites was completed in August and is now available from Standards Australia’s distributor, SAI Global