Urban Forest

The City of Unley recognises the important contribution trees and vegetation make to its community. The City’s urban forest consists of all trees and vegetation located throughout the local government area; irrespective of the tree species, location or ownership.


Trees provide environmental benefits by supporting flora and fauna, addressing the impact of climate change, adding character to our streetscapes and increasing property values. Trees are an important element of the rich cultural heritage of Unley and a considerable asset to the community. The estimated economic value of street trees in Unley is $150 million.

The City of Unley commits significant resources to ensure our City has the best possible streetscapes and reserves. Our community also plays an important role to ensure these assets are protected and enhanced for current and future generations.

Our City currently has approximately 26,000 Council owned trees, of which 22,426 are street trees.

The City’s streetscape is supported by numerous natural space and open space trees. While Unley is restricted to 3% open space, many large remnant trees remain to support a diverse urban forest. The City of Unley is committed to managing and enhancing these significant parcels of remnant vegetation.

For further information, view Council’s Tree Strategy and Tree Policy.

Trees are not permanent fixtures though. There comes a time in their life cycle when trees decline to a stage where they must be removed or when disease or damage means that replacement is the most responsible long-term approach.

In our urban environment, the removal of trees is sometimes necessary for property development or the installation of infrastructure.

To lodge an application for the removal of a street tree, please complete a Street Tree Removal Form.

Canopy Cover

Increasing canopy cover is one of the best ways that councils and communities can create cooler more liveable places for comfort and amenity in a changing climate. Every living tree acts like an evaporative air conditioner and provides shade to cool our urban environment. The urban forest measured as a canopy cover percentage of the total land area, is recognised as a primary component of the urban ecosystem.

The 202020 Vision is a collaborative project to increase canopy cover in urban environments around Australia by 20%.

Recent research has shown that overall tree canopy cover across the City is declining, with the removal of trees on private land being a key driver of this decline. If this trend continues, there will be a reduced ability for the City of Unley to build neighbourhood resilience to the effects of climate change. 

In response to these canopy trends, Council endorsed a mission statement towards a 20% increase in green cover by 2045. This commitment was made as not only a partner of the Resilient East Climate Change Adaptation Plan, but to also match the State Government green cover target contained in its 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide. 

With 80% of Unley’s land area being private realm, it is important that councils, developers and landholders collaborate on preserving existing canopy cover where possible and incorporate new tree canopy in our streets and public space, in developments and re-developments.

The Canopy Improvement Action Plan seeks to ensure that trees continue to be a feature of our urban environment while encouraging everyone to take an active interest in their own land and support the work that Council is undertaking. 

Trees & Powerlines

While vegetation forms a key part of our urban landscape, there are risks associated with trees and their proximity to powerlines.

Although Council manages the urban forest, it is not responsible for the clearance of vegetation from powerlines nor does it have the expertise to deliver this role.

SA Power Networks is required by legislation to inspect and clear vegetation from around powerlines at regular intervals of no more than three years.

For detailed information on vegetation clearance near powerlines visit the SA Government website.

Trees & Development

Trees on or adjacent to your property may be protected by legislation, which will require appropriate approvals and protection during your development project. 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.

  • Excavation work near or around Council Street Trees

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

    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.

  • Development Approval requiring Street Tree Removal

    While development approval provides authority to develop your property it does not provide the required approval to alter a public road in which street trees exist.

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

    Please be aware that it is likely that approval to alter 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.