Living with trees


Trees create more liveable cities and 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. 

Leafy streets and gardens can: 

  • reduce household cooling costs by more than 10%;
  • attract birds and butterflies to your garden;
  • provide edible fruits and nuts; 
  • improve air quality;
  • improve human health outcomes, including 16% lower heart disease and stroke rates;
  • increased property value; and
  • create privacy screens. 

Trees offer so many benefits, however we know that they can take some maintenance to keep them beautiful. 

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).

Did you know that Council offers some support to help maintain trees on private land? 

Conservation Grants

We want to continue to help owners maintain, enhance and preserve the natural and built environment by providing funds relating to building works and maintenance of significant and regulated trees. 

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

The Grant encompasses Unley's vision to become the 'City of Villages'; proud of its history, built character, landscaped environment and community well-being while ensuring sustainability into the future by responding to the need and expectations for change. 

For further information, please visit our conservation grants webpage

Street Maintenance

Our City has approximately 26,000 Council owned trees, of which 22,426 are street trees that need to be managed like any other asset, especially given the rise in extreme weather events. 

Older trees

There comes a time in the life cycle of trees when they start to age and decline to a stage where they must be removed, or when disease or damage means that replacement is the best option.

Council has developed a Succession Program to guide the regeneration of our Urban Forest to ensure the City remains vibrant, leafy and sustainable for future generations. 

Trees and powerlines 

SA Power Networks manage the clearing of vegetation from around powerlines. For more information, please visit the SA Power Networks website.

Useful information about vegetation clearance near powerlines can also be found by visiting the Government of South Australia website. 

Requesting tree maintenance

Keeping our streets and roads clean and safe is important to us.

Residential roads (local roads) are cleaned on a 6 week cycle. You can view our schedule to see when your street will be cleaned. 

Street Cleaning Schedule 

Let us know if you have a street maintenance request.

Make a request

Additional Bin Request

All residential rateable properties are entitled to a kerbside green organics bin for garden clippings and food scraps. Once collected, this organic matter is recycled into mulch, compost, potting mix and top dressing soils. 

If you do not have a green organics bin, please contact Council's Waste Management Officer on (08) 8372 5111

If you are finding that one green organics bin is not enough, you can complete an application to request an additional bin (fees applicable). 

Additional Bin Request

Getting Help at Home

The City of Unley provides discounted services to help with basic chores both inside and outside of the home for residents who qualify. This includes basic garden maintenance, gutter cleaning and other in home support.  

Getting Help At Home

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 on public land

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.

Every application is assessed individually, and, not all applications will be granted permission for tree removal. Trees must not be removed, pruned or damaged before approval is granted.

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.

Retain and Protect 

The City of Unley is known for our green, leafy suburbs and our community value trees highly. All trees, whether public or private, contribute to our urban forest and play an important role in making our city attractive, healthy and liveable.

When determining requests, staff will apply Council’s Tree Policy, noting there is a priority to retain and protect existing trees wherever possible.

Please consider alternative options to tree removal. Effective tree management (i.e. pruning), monitoring or clever design can ensure a tree remains a valuable asset to be enjoyed for generations to come.


Canopy cover at your property

LiDAR map of central Unley area

For the first time, the City of Unley is providing residents with information about the percentage of tree canopy cover for their properties on quarterly rates notices.

This data was gathered by LiDAR measurement conducted during aerial flyovers across Unley during 2018 and 2021, and comparing data across this time interval.

Council has worked with SA company Forestree to develop the MyCanopy app. Simply click on the link, then enter an address to receive data about a particular property.

This is part of our work to help keep Unley leafy for future generations through the Tree Strategy(PDF, 9MB) .

Overall, the average private property coverage in April 2021 was 22.34%. Our total canopy cover on both private and public land in April 2021 was 27.99%.

Compared to previous data from 2018, this is an increase of 1.36% to overall canopy coverage, drawing us closer to our 2045 target of 31%.

We understand that every property is unique and some have more room than others for trees. We would love you to consider:

  • Do you have space to plant any new trees?
  • Is your tree canopy cover above or below the average?

Look for your property’s tree canopy percentage on your next rates notice.


What is tree canopy cover?

Tree canopy cover is the layer formed by the branches, leaves and crowns of trees.

Canopy cover is defined as any tree above 3m in height.  While smaller trees and other vegetation also provide many benefits across the city, the 3m height allows direct comparison to the 2018 study set by the State Government and keeps the focus on a height at which trees are expected to start delivering canopy cover benefits.  Newly planted trees are unlikely to be 3m or more in height and have therefore been excluded from the analysis.

Why is tree canopy cover important?

Unley is known for its leafy streets and the community recognises the importance trees play in our health and wellbeing.

Leafy streets and gardens can: 

  • reduce household cooling costs by more than 10%
  • attract birds and butterflies to your garden
  • provide wildlife habitats
  • provide edible fruits and nuts
  • improve air quality
  • improve human health outcomes, including 16% lower heart disease and stroke rates
  • increased property value, and
  • create privacy screens. 

Trees in streets, parks and private gardens are one of the most effective methods for reducing heat in urban areas and the adverse effects of climate change.

What is a good level of canopy?

Overall we are aiming for 31% canopy cover by 2045. However we understand that every property is unique and may not have the space for large trees or to plant new ones. Some people also have trees that they keep pruned lower than 3m tall and these would be missed by this LiDAR analysis. 

So while the average private property canopy coveage is currently 22.34%, please consider your properties percentage in balance with your unique situation.

The percentages displayed on rates notices are for informative purposes, raise the awareness of the importance of canopy cover city-wide, and encourage residents to keep the trees they already have and plant more trees if possible.

Why is the City of Unley collecting this data?

Improving data management is a key part of Council’s Tree Strategy, which aims to create a resilient, healthy, and diverse urban forest to keep Unley leafy for future generations.

Looking at the information by street and suburb will enable a targeted approach to implementing Council’s Tree Strategy work.

The LiDAR data will support and guide Council toward reaching its overall target of 31% canopy cover by 2045, and guide the Council and the State Government in achieving its canopy cover targets:

  • The 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide (2017) outlines key directions to create a greener city through an increase in green cover by 20% across metropolitan Adelaide by 2045. This represents an increase from 26% to 31% for Unley.
  • The City of Unley Tree Strategy has a matching goal of a 20% increase in green cover by 2045.

The LiDAR data will also support Council’s proactive advocacy at the state level to influence change in the Planning and Design Code.

How is the tree canopy data collected?

Council created a tree canopy map of our City using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), which uses laser pulses from an overflying plane. Only canopy 3m or taller was captured across both public and private land. The results create a 3-D map of the canopy cover to a 10cm resolution. The image at the top of this page gives you a great example of the level of detail created.

Council then used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to overlay each LIDAR dataset over property boundaries to give individual property detail.

How is the canopy cover % calculated for my property?

The tree canopy coverage % is calculated using:

  1. The total area of the individual property
  2. The total area covered by canopy (only canopy 3m or taller is captured) captured using LiDAR technology.

Council then used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to overlay the LIDAR canopy results with each individual property. This provides each property's individual canopy coverage result as a percentage.

For example. If your property is 500m2, and the canopy cover was 50m2 your total canopy cover percentage is 10%.

When was the tree canopy measured?

Data was collected in April 2018 and April 2021 to track the progress of our tree canopy cover over time.

Due to the number of laser pulses picking up branches as well as leaves to create the 3-D canopy map, it still gives a reliable result even if some deciduous trees were starting to lose their leaves at the time of capture. The image as the top of this page gives a good indication of the level of detail picked up.

Is there a percentage target?

Council’s commitment is at a city-wide level, aiming to restore canopy cover to a target level of 31% by 2045.

Of course actual percents vary across land use and ownership. For example our leafy city streets and roads currently have an average of 44% tree canopy coverage.

A percentage target at the property level is not set.By providing this data to residents, Council aims to educate and encourage an increase in canopy cover on private land.

Is this related to the Regional Landscape Levy?

No, the canopy cover assessment work was completed by the City of Unley and not related to the State Government tax. The Regional Landscape Levy (Formerly the Natural Resources Management Levy) is a state tax. Councils are required under the Landscape South Australia Act 2019 to impose and collect the levy on all rateable properties on behalf of the State Government. 

The proceeds are paid to the Green Adelaide Board. The Council will collect $1.43 million in the 2021-22 financial year.

For specific information about how this levy is used, please visit

Is my neighbour’s trees / street tree that overhangs my property included in result?

Yes, an overhanging canopy is included in a property result as it is captured inside the property boundary. The LiDAR shows where the canopy falls over a specific area, but it does not show where the trunk is located. 

Why your rates notice may not display a canopy percentage.

Due to information supplied by the Land Services SA, canopy cover for approximately 1500 properties cannot be reasonably measured by Council.

A small number of properties, particularly in multi-unit apartments, cannot display a discrete result.

Can I find out about other properties?

Anyone can access canopy cover information at a  property level in the City of Unley on the My Canopy app.

You can also look at the overall 2018 canopy cover map with the Department for Environment and Water Urban Heat and Tree Mapping viewer. Please note this does not provide individual property percentages.

How is this data going to be used?

The LiDAR results show that most of the increase in canopy cover is due to established trees growing larger. Across the whole of City of Unley, we are collectively still losing more trees than recently planted ones. Essentially this means that existing, growing trees are compensating for the trees lost in recent years.

Council staff have started to apply this new data to analyse changes at a whole of Council level.

Analysing the data results will allow Council to track progress and better target future investments.

What are plans for tracking future change?

Council has recently made an agreement with Green Adelaide (part of the Department for Environment and Water) to partner with other metropolitan Adelaide Councils on a repeat capture of both LiDAR Canopy Cover and Heat Mapping over summer of 2022.

What is Council doing for tree canopy cover in public spaces?

Overall we currently have 44% canopy coverage over streets and roads and 28% over other public land.

Environmental Stewardship is a key strategy of the City of Unley – one aim is to maintain and improve Unley’s urban forest.

Our arboriculture team look after our existing park and street tree assets with a combination of inspections, cyclic pruning, maintenance and even clever use of stormwater such as these tree inlets.

To further increase our canopy we have been planting more new trees. For example

  • In the 2020-21 annual budget, Council allocated $160,000 toward planting 440 new trees on public land to increase the canopy cover across the City.
  • In the 2021-22 annual budget, one of Council’s key projects is implementing Council’s Tree Strategy to increase canopy cover across the district through the planting of 275 new trees.

If Council is worried about canopy cover, why are trees allowed to be removed for development?

Council only has powers regarding significant and regulated trees. Authority, regulation and policy-making rests with the State government, and Council continues to advocate for strengthening of protection for Significant and Regulated Trees

Where the State Planning Commission is the relevant authority to access and determine development applications, Council can raise concerns over the removal of trees, however the final decision rests with the State Commission Assessment Panel.



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.

 resized-Malus_ionesis_plena.jpg      resized-Cupaniopsis-anacardioides-1.jpg    resized-norway-maple.jpg

Small Tree Factsheets    Medium Tree Factsheets   Large Tree Factsheets 


Other useful tools:

Keeping Unley leafy


We recognise the past achievements of community members for their important contributions in establishing the diverse urban forest we enjoy today. Ongoing work in parks, reserves, residential gardens with the encouragement of local food production continues.

The City of Unley is an urban environment recognised and loved for its tree-lined streets, parks and private gardens. The protection of Unley’s trees and street trees is particularly important to mitigate the impacts of climate change, the urban heat island effect and provide a range of social, environmental and economic benefits. This work is guided by the City of Unley Tree Strategy.(PDF, 9MB)

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
  • and overall, contributing to a more liveable city.

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

Tree Strategy

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.

Shared Goals

Recent studies show trees in the City of Unley are rapidly declining due to such factors like mature trees reaching 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. 

Community orchards

The City of Unley has community fruit tree orchards in six of our parks. These orchards are maintained by Council and volunteers, but the produce is available to share for all park users. Look out for lemons, oranges, mulberry, guava and more. 

Aside from enjoying a seasonal mandarin at the playground, the orchards are a great way for children to learn more about where food comes from and inspire growing fruit at home. 

You can find these community orchards at Princess Margaret Playground, Soutar Park, Orphanage Park, Morrie Harrell Playground, Henry Codd Reserve and Fullarton Park.

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

Green Unley video



Significant tree list

The Tree Canopy Project

The State Government protects special trees in the metropolitan area under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 and regulations. These are called Regulated or Significant trees. 

To complement the State Government protected Regulated and Significant trees, the City of Unley has a Significant Tree List(PDF, 240KB) which is a register of identified trees with increased protection under legislation. 

What is a Regulated or Significant tree?

A regulated tree is any tree in metropolitan Adelaide, Adelaide Hills Council townships and parts of the Mount Barker Council with a trunk circumference of 2m or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level). In the case of trees with multiple trunks, regulated trees are those with trunks having a total circumference of 2m or more and an average circumference of 625mm or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level).

A significant tree is a regulated tree in metropolitan Adelaide, Adelaide Hills Council townships and parts of the Mount Barker Council with a trunk circumference of 3m or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level). In the case of trees with multiple trunks, significant trees are those with trunks having a total circumference of 3m or more and an average circumference of 625mm or more (measured at a point 1m above natural ground level).

A tree can also be important if they:

  • make a significant contribution to the character or visual amenity of the local area
  • are indigenous to the local area, rare or endangered species or part of a remnant area of native vegetation
  • are an important habitat for native fauna.

Some trees may be exempt from regulated and significant tree controls either because of their location or their species.

For more information view the SA Government’s Community Information Sheet and Council’s Fact Sheet on Regulated and Significant Trees(PDF, 155KB)

2021 Significant Tree Register Review

In 2021, a review of the register was undertaken and a number of nominations for new listings were received following a public call-out. This review and individual technical assessments for nominated trees is now completed, and the outcomes and next steps were considered in a Council meeting in May 2022 (Item 4.8). 

For further information, view: 

2023 Highgate Park Tree Review

Further to the review of Unley’s Significant Tree List, a specific review of Highgate Park has been undertaken in 2023 to better understand the significant and important trees at the site. 

For further information, view: 

Nominate a Significant tree

The Government of South Australia is currently conducting a review of tree legislation and policy. The outcomes of this may result in changes to current tree listings and protection, and an amendment to the Planning and Design Code (which is required to formally update the Significant Tree List).

You may wish to nominate a tree by providing its location, a description and photo using the online form below. Your nomination will be considered as part of future reviews. 

Before nominating a new tree, please check if it is already on the register(PDF, 240KB) . They are listed by property address in alphabetical order by street name.

Nominate a Significant tree