Protected trees in Nelson

The Nelson Resource Management Plan (NRMP) protects hundreds of notable trees in the district.  These trees are divided into three categories depending on the level of protection they receive:

  • Heritage
  • Landscape
  • Local Trees

Why the NRMP protects trees

Trees have many positive effects on the environment.  The continued presence of notable trees is important to our heritage and to the legacy we leave to future generations.

While trees can be visually spectacular and of landmark significance, they also form an expected feature of a New Zealand city’s landscape, softening and complementing the built environment.

The presence of a large tree on a site can provide a pleasant outlook for that site and the neighbourhood in general and may form a significant habitat for birds and other animals.

Trees can help to reduce noise, provide shelter from heat, wind and rain as well as helping to avoid natural hazards such as landslips and erosion.  They also have a positive effect on the atmosphere by recycling moisture, absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) and giving off oxygen, and by settling and gathering airborne dust.

Listing a tree

For a landowner, a listed tree provides peace of mind that the tree has a level of protection no matter who owns the property in the future.  The specific rules pertaining to activities within the dripline of protected trees, as well as the trimming and removal of protected trees are provided in the relevant zone rule chapters of the NRMP.  View the NRMP.

Nelson City Council’s Parks Department offers a maintenance service for all listed trees.  For more information on this service please contact Nelson City Council’s Horticultural Supervisor, +64 3 546 0376.

Chopping down protected trees

An example of one of the controls applied to Heritage or Landscape Trees is the requirement to obtain resource consent for their removal or destruction.

For example Residential Rule REr.96 controls the removal or destruction of a Heritage or Landscape Tree identified in Appendix 2 of the NRMP.  For both categories of tree a resource consent is required, however there will be a difference in the way the planning officer assesses each application because while Landscape Trees are trees for which retention is considered important, Heritage Trees are trees for which retention is considered essential.  Therefore tighter controls are placed on Heritage Trees recognising that they are of greater significance to the community than the Landscape Trees.  This is translated through into the planning rules by each category belonging to a different activity status i.e. removing or destroying a Landscape Tree a discretionary activity and removing or destroying a Heritage Tree a non-complying activity. 

For more information on the details of each activity status and the planning rules relating to protected trees please call the Nelson City Council Duty Planner on +64 3 546 0357.

Nominating a tree for protection

Anyone can nominate a tree for protection in the NRMP, no matter who the owner of the property is.  Consultation with all affected parties will be carried out as part of the listing process.

Before nominating a tree for protection, please make contact with Nelson City Council’s Horticultural Supervisor on +64 3 546 0376 for an informal discussion about the tree’s suitability for protection. 

Once it is established that the tree may merit protection, a nomination for the protection of a tree (or trees) can be made in writing to:

Heritage Tree Nomination
Policy and Planning Administrator
Nelson City Council
PO Box 645
Nelson 7040

or you can

Download a nomination form in PDF (75KB PDF) or

Fill out the online form

Once a nomination is received an evaluation assessment is carried out to determine which category of protection the tree would receive (i.e. Heritage, Landscape or Local).

In order to officially list a tree for protection in the NRMP it is necessary to carry out a ‘plan change’, a lengthy and often contentious process which is open to objection or even appeal to the Environment Court.  Council generally undertakes plan changes on an intermittent basis and that depends to some extent on the number of similar topics awaiting change.

Heritage trees in Nelson

View a selection of some of the most significant trees around Nelson.

Access the full register of listed trees in the Nelson Resource Management Plan. (336KB PDF)

Heritage walks

A number of Council’s Heritage Walks celebrate heritage trees with more walks created each year.

For example Isel Park is home to many heritage trees and a handy map is available on the Isel Park Walk that features information from the interpretation panels around the Park.  Saunter in Stoke takes you further afield to discover more trees in the Stoke area. Other key sites in the city where interpretation boards featuring information on heritage and notable trees include Queens Gardens, Church Hill, Fairfield Park, Wakapuaka Cemetery and Marsden Cemetery. All heritage walks can be found at the above link.