The Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011.
As arborists we are often called upon to mediate in a dispute over vegetation on boundary lines and fences. Although in Queensland we have the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal or QCAT to oversee such formal disputes, the Arborist is usually the first port of call or the contractor who has to conduct the works commissioned by the QCAT panel. Often this panel is made up of reputable arboriculture consultants who assess the dispute and the vegetation involved and derive the best possible outcome for all parties and the trees/plants involved. But not all outcomes can be mutually beneficial. Sometimes one of the property owners may have to capitulate or worse, the tree may need to be removed. This is usually the worst result as all too often the ‘tree’ becomes the battle ground for neighbourhood disputes that have derived from issues not involving vegetation, so the ‘tree’ becomes collateral damage caught up in disagreements between stubborn and insensitive citizens. As a consequence of the unliveable nature of their self-created environment the tree is therefore sometimes removed for no reason and will no longer exist for the betterment of future generations.
The Neighbourhood Disputes (Dividing Fences and Trees) Act 2011 is the current legislation created to assist in matters concerning vegetation disputes along common boundaries. As stated within the Act, the Acts objects are to “(a) to provide rules about each neighbour’s responsibility for dividing fences and for trees so that neighbours are generally able to resolve issues about fences or trees without a dispute arising; and (b) to facilitate the resolution of any disputes about dividing fences or trees that do arise between neighbours.” It is also the legislation the QCAT panel will use to assert legal authority coupled with their intended outcome.
Some Trees Are Problematic.
It is true that some plants and trees may become problematic; they may be the wrong species for that position, they may produce excessive leaf/fruit/seed causing damage, they may have damaging invasive root systems and their canopies may be impacting upon neighbouring properties. This is the reality when living within one the greenest cities on the planet. This should be a positive thing for citizens of green cities. For those who have been to cities without a vigorous urban forest, you would quickly appreciate the benefits of our city’s thriving urban forest. There are few professionals out there who take the stewardship of this forest seriously and have experience in dealing with all the matters present in the case of vegetation disputes. In most cases the dispute can be easily rectified by finding a compromise and the employ of a reputable Arborist.