ePetition: Increase Penalties for Urban Forest Tree Vandalism and Recognise Trees as Natural Assets


To the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly, In November 2023, Lane Cove witnessed the worst act of environmental vandalism in its history. Nearly 300 trees and plants were illegally removed from Council-owned bushland in Longueville. Local governments received more than 1000+ reports of trees being damaged or killed in the previous 12 months. Our urban forests are under threat. These acts also put a financial burden on already cash-strapped councils. It’s time to take stronger action against those who harm our environment. Current fines for tree vandalism in NSW are $3,000 for individuals and $6,000 for companies, compared with recent reforms in the ACT imposing fines up to $80,000. We ask the Legislative Assembly to call on the Government to significantly increase penalties for urban forest tree vandalism. Councils lack resources for thorough criminal investigations, hindering effective prosecution. Despite the illegality of tree vandalism under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, only 19 cases were prosecuted from 2018 to 2022. We the undersigned petitioners also ask the Legislative Assembly to call on the Government to amend the NSW Local Government Act to include trees in Councils’ asset registers as ‘natural assets’, allocate a budget for a collaboration of councils to undertake pilot projects to integrate natural capital/asset reporting in balance sheets and develop natural asset data capture and management standards. Recognising trees as ‘natural assets’ helps us appreciate their true value including their role in combating climate change and preserving biodiversity.

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