Tree Strategy

The Tree Canopy Project

The City of Unley Tree Strategy(PDF, 9MB) sets a long-term vision for Council and the community to keep Unley leafy for future generations. It considers current and emerging issues, opportunities and trends in our community relating to trees. In addition to managing and maintaining our existing trees, there is a focus on expanding and establishing new trees across the City. 

The Tree Strategy was developed in consultation with members of the community, staff and key stakeholders. It responds to the voice of our community and provides us with the guidance to effectively manage, protect and expand our leafy urban forest for generations to come.

Keeping Unley leafy


We recognise the past achievements of community members for their important contributions in establishing the diverse urban forest we enjoy today. 

Trees and vegetation make an important contribution to our City and community in many ways. These valuable, living assets provide multiple benefits like;

  • supporting flora and fauna
  • reducing the impacts of climate change      
  • adding character to our neighbourhoods
  • increasing economic value to properties
  • cooling our homes and streets
  • holding cultural and historical significance
  • creating sense of place
  • and overall, contributing to a more liveable city.

Establishing a healthy, resilient urban forest requires a sustained commitment from all of us.

Shared Goals  

Recent studies have shown trees in the City of Unley are rapidly declining due to such factors like mature trees reaching their end of life, urban infill or the trend for smaller gardens on private land. Council recognises the adverse impact this has on our City and community.

The City of Unley has a target to increase green cover by 20% by 2045
(which is approximately equivalent to 14,000 additional trees).

Our goal includes preserving our existing canopy cover wherever possible and incorporating new tree canopy in our streets and public spaces, developments and re-developments.

The City of Unley's goal for increased green cover are in line with the direction set by Resilient East and the State Government's 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide. Additionally, Greener Spaces Better Places is a collaborative project to increase canopy cover in urban environments nationally by 20%. 

Individual backyards, gardens and corporate landscaping make significant contributions to our community. With 80% of the City’s land privately owned, Council cannot meet state and local targets by focusing on public land alone. Ensuring Unley remains leafy and resilient for future generations requires Council working together with private land owners and the community. We are strengthening and increasing programs and initiatives to help retain and increase canopy cover on private land.

Tree Cities of the World Recognition

In 2020, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Arbor Day Foundation recognised the City of Unley with Tree Cities of the World designation for the care and planning of urban trees and forests. This international program celebrates cities across all continents that meet core standards. 

logo tree cities of the world

Our oldest tree 

Within our City lives a River Red Gum on Wilberforce Walk, Forestville, believed to be the oldest living thing in South Australia! Estimated at 800 years of age, it is also one of the largest, with a circumference of seven metres. 

Planting trees 

Planting trees in your backyard

You can contribute to Unley's urban forest and enjoy the benefits trees provide by planting a tree - or more than one - in your own backyard. 

The City of Unley has developed 31 factsheets for popular trees in the area to help you choose a tree suited to you and your property. The factsheets provide clear and simple information describing the size of tree, colour of leaves, ability to flower and more. There are a range of Australian natives, ornamentals and productive fruit trees. Since there are a large range of trees available, consider this as a starting point of ideas, then talk to your local garden centre for specialist advice. 

Search for a tree below based on size; small, medium or large.

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Small Tree Factsheets    Medium Tree Factsheets   Large Tree Factsheets 


Tree tags

Through our Tree Tags project, we have calculated the value of individual trees in Unley and are promoting the benefits they provide to our community. Our Tree Tags show how much shade the tree provides, how much carbon dioxide it absorbs and how much oxygen it produces.

Tree Tag Unley.jpg

Photo credit: Jason Tyndall

Tree maintenance


Trees provide environmental benefits by supporting flora and fauna, cleaning the air and protecting us from the heat during our increasingly hot summers. 

Our trees also add character to our streetscapes and increase property values. The estimated economic value of street trees in Unley is $150 million.

Council commits significant resources to maintain and increase vegetation in our streetscapes and reserves and is keen to partner with the community to protect our trees for future generations. 

For further information, view Council’s Tree Strategy(PDF, 9MB)  and Tree Policy(PDF, 134KB).

Conservation Grants

The City of Unley Conservation Grant assists owners of Significant and Regulated Trees, Local Heritage Items or Contributory buildings in a Conservation Zone to preserve them in a 'safe and aesthetically pleasing condition'.

For further information, please click click here


Our City currently has approximately 26,000 Council owned trees, of which 22,426 are street trees that need our sound management, especially given the rise in frequency of extreme weather events. 

Older trees

There comes a time in the life cycle of trees that they start to decline to a stage where they must be removed or when disease or damage means that replacement is the most responsible long-term approach.

Council has developed a Succession Program to guide the regeneration of our Urban Forest and provide sustainability for the City moving forward. 

Trees and powerlines 

SA Power Networks manage the clearing of vegetation from around powerlines, not Council. 

Useful information about vegetation clearance near powerlines can be found on SA.GOV.AU

Requesting tree maintenance

To request maintenance for trees or leafy debris, visit our request street maintenance page.

Make a request

Development Requirements

Trees are Protected by Law 

When working next to trees it is critical that the Australian Standard 4970-2009 ‘Protection of Trees on Development Sites’ is adhered to. 

Any damage to Council street trees or regulated/significant trees on private property will result in the City of Unley taking relevant enforcement action which may lead to prosecution.

Speak with someone qualified 

You should seek advice from a qualified arborist to determine the legal status of the tree/s, and to assess the possible impact your proposed development activities may have on such tree/s.

Request to Remove Trees

Development approvals do not provide you with approvals to 'alter a public road(PDF, 313KB)  in which street trees exist'.

If your development requires the removal of a Council street tree, you are required to lodge an application(PDF, 33KB) providing your development approval number and any other information you deem relevant.

Please be aware that alterations to public land (tree removal) will result in costs that you will be required to pay in full prior to Council undertaking any works.

These costs will include, but are not limited to labour, plants, replacement tree/s, stump removal/s and loss of amenity to the community.