The 10/50 vegetation clearing rule explained

Home » The 10/50 vegetation clearing rule explained

Back in 2013, horrific bushfires swept through Australia, destroying thousands of properties, and placing people in serious danger. In response to these events, the NSW state government responded with some new legislation to help homeowners keep their properties more fire safe by removing excess vegetation.

The 10-50 rule was created as a means of giving residents of risk zones permission to remove certain plants without council approval, provided that their property is in a designated bushfire zone and it meets certain criteria for land clearing in NSW. Here’s what you need to know.

10/15 Vegetation Land Clearing Rule Sydney NSW

What is the 10/50 rule?

Simply put, the 10/50 scheme allows people with properties in designated fire zone areas to:


  • Clear trees on their property within 10 metres of the home, without sign-off from council
  • Clear other underlying vegetation such as shrubs, on their property within 50 metres of the home, without the need for council approval

How do you know if you’re in a designated 10/50 zone?

You can check here to see if your property is currently under this scheme, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service. Please also note that the 10/50 areas can change at times, which is why it’s always necessary to re-confirm if you are in the 10/50 area the day the tree work is expected to commence.

What vegetation is covered in the 10/50 land clearing law?

Trees – According to NSW law, a tree is considered to be a permanent plant with a wooden stem. This must also exceed three metres height, and have a circumference of over 30 centimetres at chest height.

Shrubs – Smaller, lower-growing plants, shrubs tend to be the remaining plants that don’t fit into the tree category. They can have woody stems, or vines, that need external support for growth.

What properties are covered by the scheme?

There are several types of buildings covered under the 10-50 scheme. These can include homes, visitor accommodations, caravans, childcare facilities, hospitals and schools – as long as there are external walls, and the property is habitable.

Where do the land clearing measurements start and end?


  • The respective 10 metres for trees and 50 metres for shrubbery should be measured from the external walls of your property.
  • Decks, garages, or any other permanently-attached structures that are connected to the external walls of the building count as part of the home.
  • However, a detached structure, such as a deck that is not connected to the main property will not be considered as part of the main fixture of the building for measurement purposes

What are the exceptions to the rule?

Here are some important exceptions to the 10/50 land clearing rule:

  • The scheme only applies to your own property. It is therefore illegal to clear vegetation from a neighbour’s property without their consent
  • The clearing of trees or other vegetation is not allowed within 10 metres of a lake or river that is 2 metres or more in width, between the highest opposite banks
  • The 10/50 rule does not apply to vegetation on a heritage property, or one with items of Aboriginal cultural significance
  • Special restrictions to the rule apply to clearing trees on land that is on slopes greater than 18 degrees, as these locations may be susceptible to erosion or landslip


Other things to consider for vegetation removal

  • The 10/50 vegetation rule applies to properties that are rented – and renters have a right to clear their properties to reduce their fire risk
  • You can use any vegetation clearing method, as long as it is safe and does not harm the soil profile. Methods like burning, or machinery, such as ploughs or bulldozers, therefore, should not be used.

Land clearing done right

Pruning, removing trees and clearing land of vegetation can be difficult and dangerous. It’s essential that these works are completed with all the necessary expertise, due diligence and insurance required – which is why we recommend working with land clearing experts like us.

When you work with the Tip Top Tree team, you can be confident that we’ve taken every precaution under the sun to keep you and your property as fire-safe as can be. We’re also experts in the local environment, and work tirelessly to create the safest, healthiest and harmonious natural space.

Ready to get your trees in Tip Top shape? Tip Top Tree Services are your local Sutherland arborists and we’re ready and here to help. Our team of expert tree specialists are compliant, fast and safe, and get the job done with a smile. Get in touch today to find natural and affordable ways to bring your garden vision to life.

Enquire now for a FREE quote