Protection of trees in the City of Cape Town26 February 2016
Did you know it is illegal to cut down or chop trees on public property in Cape Town? Learn more about the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality By-laws relating to trees below.
Trees in streets
No person (other than a City official) may do the following:
- plant a tree or shrub in a public road
- cut down a tree or a shrub in a public road
- remove a tree or a shrub in a public road
- climb, break or damage a tree growing in a public road
- mark, attach an advertisement or paint any tree growing in a public road.
Anyone convicted of doing so is liable to a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of six months, or to both a fine and imprisonment. (Section 9 and 23 of the Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-Law, 2007)
Trees causing an interference or obstruction
The City may order the owner or occupier of the property to prune or remove any tree or plant which interferes with overhead wires or is a source of annoyance, danger or inconvenience to people using public road.
If the owner or occupier does not remove the interference and comply with the City’s written notice to remove the interference, the City may prune or remove the tree or growth at the expense of the person on whom the notice was served.
Anyone who does not comply with such a written notice from the City is liable to a fine or imprisonment for a period of maximum six months, or to both a fine and imprisonment. (Sections 8 and 23 of the Streets, Public Places and Prevention of Noise Nuisances By-Law, 2007)
Trees in public parks
In a public park, no person (other than an official) may:
- plant or prune a tree or shrub, or in any way cut down or remove a tree or a shrub, except with the written permission of the Director: City Parks;
- climb, break or damage unless permitted by a notice; or
- mark or paint park or attach any advertisement to any tree.
Anyone convicted of doing so is liable to a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of six months, or to both a fine and imprisonment. In addition to these penalties, a Court may order that any harm caused be remedied and that damages for harm be paid. (Sections 10 and 18 of the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality Public Parks By-Law, 2010)
Protected Trees on both Public and Private Land
Section 7 and Section 15 of the National Forest Act prohibit the cutting down of trees in natural forests or trees which have been declared as protected.
Protected Tree Species
No person may (without a licence):
- cut, disturb, damage or destroy any protected tree, or
- possess, collect, remove, transport, export, purchase, sell, donate, acquire or dispose of any protected tree, or any forest product derived from a protected tree
Protected trees on private property in urban areas may be pruned or de-limbed to a maximum of 25% of the crown without mutilating the tree in terms of an exception to the prohibition above. This exception does not allow one to remove the crown of a protected tree because is obstructing the view.
It is an offence not to comply with the above prohibition and the penalty is a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of three years, or both a fine and imprisonment. (Section 15 and 68 of the National Forest Act 84 of 1998).