Amendment to 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code Announced by NSW RFS


NSW Rural Fire Service announced an amendment to new tree removal 10/50 code for bushfire risk management introduced on 1 August 2014, after the matter raised by community groups and councils about homes established within 350m of bushland.

Tree Removed in Sydney 

Number of trees chopped down in Sydney after 10/50 vegetation clearing code

After experiencing the disastrous last year season when 200 homes were destroyed by blazes, the NSW RFS introduced the 10/50 vegetation clearing code two months before to protect the homes and lives of people against bushfires.

The new tree removal rule which was introduced on 1 August 2014, allowed homeowners to remove trees within 10m of a home, and shrubs within 50m without any written permit, if they are living within 350m of bushfire prone land.

Read about: 10/50 Vegetation Clearing Code NSW

In the past, most of the homes coming within 350m entitlement area destroyed by bushfires and the reason why this new 10/50 rule covers homes within 350m of bushland.

The officials at RFS now announced an amendment to the 10/50 vegetation clearing code after the stories reported by Fairfax Media that many homeowners are exploiting by legally removing the trees for their property views and development.

With this amendment, the new 10/50 entitlement area is now only 150m for Category 2 (reduced fire risk vegetation areas) announced by NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons. The councils have the power to assign reduced fire risk vegetation areas from Category 1 to Category 2.


NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons

According to Mr Fitzsimmons, more than 25 percent of people who affected last year have no survival plan, and they need to be prepared for the upcoming year as well despite recent rainfall.

He said that the people with attitude “it won’t happen to us; we’ll be alright” are not good. The unfavorable forecast of the upcoming season is above average where hot temperature and less rain is expected. He also added that recent wet weather hinder their efforts in reducing hazards but they successfully able to control about 70 percent.

However, despite the recent changes to 10/50 code, Nature Conservation Council has called for moratorium to prevent the further removal of trees in regional towns. The NCC is concerned with the senseless loss of many trees as 95% people are using this 10/50 rule to clear trees for their property value, view or development - not for the real bushfire risk.

Nature Conservation Council of NSW

NCC fear that the recent changes by RFS might help slows down the destruction, but not entirely stops this loss. That’s why they use an immediate moratorium approach to end the destruction on people self-assessed tree removal.

According to Nature Conservation Council, the 10/50 vegetation clearing code is a one-size-fits-all approach that not much-reducing wildfire risk while significantly destroying the wildlife habitat. 

“Hundreds of landmark trees have now been chopped down because of this 10/50 rule without any significant development in bushfire risk,” NCC CEO Kate Smolski said.


Kate Smolski of the Nature Conservation Council. Picture Source:

A spokesperson, “Ian McKenzie” at the Institute of Australian Consulting Arborists called this 10/50 code a “blunt instrument”.  He said that many trees that are in an excellent condition and have no bushfires risks are now chopping down just for their property views and development.

To maintain the best protection against bushfires, NSW RFS has provided the comments and feedback option to communities for 10/50 ruling commencing from 1 October 2014.

You can get more details and submission email from NSW RFS website: