Every summer, bushfires present an enormous danger to the lives and property of many Australians. Recent bushfires have caused extensive damage to farmland near Canberra, affecting more than 2,400 hectares. To reduce the risk that a bushfire will spread to your property, you may wish to remove trees which are close to your home. However, before you fell any trees, there are several things you should do.
Check if you are covered by the 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme
The 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Scheme allows you to remove trees that are located within 10 metres of your property. You can also remove bushes and shrubs which are growing within 50 metres of your home. To find out if you are in a 10/50 zone, you should contact your local council or fire department. However, if you live in an area which is deemed to contain critically endangered plants, you may still require permission to cut down particular types of tree.
If you aren't in a 10/50 zone, get permission
If your home is not located in a 10/50 area and you wish to remove a tree from your property, you should first seek permission from the local authorities. The environmental department of the local council should be your first port of call. If you do not get the proper permits before removing a tree, you may be liable to a hefty fine.
Check if you are eligible for government assistance
When you contact your local council, you should also check if you qualify for any government programs, which can help to meet the cost of removing a hazardous tree from your property. After Bushfires hit Victoria in 2009, grants worth $4000 were made available to homeowners to encourage them to eliminate dangerous trees.
Carry out a survey
You should conduct a careful survey of the trees on your land. Measure how far away they are located from your home and assess the size of the canopy. You should prioritise those trees which are the closest to your home and which have the largest canopies, as these are likely to help to spread a bushfire to the roof of your home.
Call in a professional
When you have established which trees pose the greatest danger to your home, you should contact a professional tree felling company. They will send out an expert contractor who will be able to assess each tree and assist you with tree lopping.