Sugar glider

Sugar glider peaking out of a tree hole. Image © anyka / Canva

Think before you cut or prune a tree — an animal may rely on that tree for food or shelter.

Do I need to remove the tree?

  • If the tree is unsafe or poses a threat to people or structures, and no cost-effective remedy is possible, then remove the tree.
  • Are you just taking the tree out for aesthetic reasons? Find out if the tree is a native to your area and whether you have seen any wildlife using it. Just pruning the tree may make it more appealing.

How many trees should I remove?

If a tree has to go, keep the impact to a minimum. The more trees you take out, the greater the impact on wildlife. Your trees may be the entire range and habitat of an animal.

  • Remove the minimum amount of vegetation.
  • Cut down only one or two trees a year, if possible.
  • Stagger the removal of groups of trees.

What is the best time of the year?

Food is in short supply in late autumn or winter for most animals; reptiles will be hibernating. Birds are nesting in spring and may have eggs or young in the tree you are going to fell.

  • Cut down trees in mid- to late summer or early autumn.
Lorikeet in tree

Rainbow lorikeet on branch in tree. Image © hereswendy / Canva

How do I take the tree out safely?

Animals such as possums may be badly injured or killed when you cut down backyard trees.

  • Make sure no animals are living in the tree when you cut it down. Hit the trunk with a heavy object for several days beforehand. This encourages animals to leave the tree.
  • Inspect the tree before it is cut to make sure that no wildlife still lives there.
  • If using a tradesperson, tell them that no animals are to be harmed during removal.

How can I replace the tree?

  • Plant a selection of replacement trees, some that grow quickly and others that grow slower for longer-term use by wildlife.
  • Replace shelter trees in the short term by installing nestboxes. Wildlife Queensland has details of nestbox suppliers, or follow our How to Build a Nest Box instructions to build your own.
  • Plant appropriate native trees that wildlife can feed on.

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Written by Wildlifeqld