Tree Vandalism in Longueville

Published on 28 November 2023

Cleared land with visible tree stumps in the foreground. The Lane Cove River is in the background.
Latest Update

Friday 5 January 2024

Council received a report on 23 November in relation to the unauthorised removal of hundreds of trees from Council-owned bushland on the environmentally sensitive foreshore of Woodford Bay in Longueville.

Council staff immediately launched an investigation to understand the scale of the illegal clearing and to seek to identify whoever is responsible.

Council’s bushland team were tasked with fully cataloging and photographing each tree removed. This process concluded that the number of trees removed was approximately 285, far greater than originally reported. The tree species included, Eucalypts (incl. Angophora), Banksia, Casuarina (high density vegetation), and others. The affected area comprises land upon which the trees and vegetation removed formed part of what is understood to be an Endangered Ecological Community that is recognised by both Council and the NSW Government. Council has been contacted by NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) and is liaising with them in relation to potential future actions.

Council staff engaged lawyers and subject to legal advice, are seeking the most appropriate legal redress.

As the process is not handled by the NSW Police it is important that Council’s own investigations are handled appropriately and within the powers conferred on Council. For this reason, it is not possible to provide regular detailed updates to the public at this time, beyond that Council has identified person/s of interest and investigations are ongoing.

With that being said, while we are unable to be more specific, the investigations to this point are very encouraging.

Council staff have cordoned off the area during the detailed investigation process which is continuing. Identification of specific means of redress will occur when sufficient information has been obtained through the investigation process.

The community can be assured every effort will be made and the strongest possible action will be taken having regard to all of the circumstances of the case.

Mayor of Lane Cove, Councillor Scott Bennison, is appalled by the incident.

“I’m sure I speak for all in our community in saying the mass destruction of trees at this scale is outrageous and the culprit needs to be prosecuted to the full extent possible.” Mayor Bennison said. 

Lane Cove is known for its bushland setting, making this large-scale act of tree vandalism a complete contradiction to the community’s values.

Lane Cove Council cares for and manages approximately 90 hectares of bushland. Council has been increasing the amount of open space in the area through the creation of new parks and the recent acquisition of more bushland for preservation. More than 20 local Bushcare groups spend thousands of hours each year contributing to bush regeneration.

At its most recent Council meeting on 7 December 2023, the outcome of the Notice of Motion – Destruction of Endangered Ecological Communities was:


RESOLVED on the motion moved by Councillor Brooks-Horn and seconded by Councillor Mort that:

1. Council officers continue to investigate the matter and make a decision consistent with Council's Enforcement Policy as to the appropriate action to be taken upon completion of the investigation and in accordance with any legal advice received. Such enforcement action may include prosecution in the Land & Environment Court of NSW seeking the imposition of a fine along with orders for remediation and/or revegetation.

2. The General Manager engage with our local member, the Hon. Anthony Roberts, neighbouring Mayors, State Members of Parliament, and LGNSW to collectively lobby the State Government for increased penalties for these types of environmental crimes.

3. Council take appropriate action as soon as feasibly possible, following the receipt of legal advice, to obscure any view/harbour outlook that will have been gained by the destruction of the habitat.

4. Council note that our Federal Member, The Hon. Kylea Tink, MP has this week written to the Minister for Local Government in relation to amending the Local Government Act 1993 to protect tree canopy by including it as "natural capital" or "natural assets" under the act, and has written to the Minister for Planning, calling on the Government to initiate urgent legislative reform to protect our tree canopy.


For the Motion were Councillors Bennison, Southwood, Roenfeldt, Kennedy, Flood, Bryla, Brooks-Horn, Mort and Zbik (Total 9).

Against the Motion was Nil (Total 0).


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