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Trees, Fences & NeighboursRākau, Taiapa, Kiritata

Cities need trees. They’re essential to birdlife and they improve the air we breathe while beautifying the landscape. We also need fences, to mark boundaries and keep activity within them contained. And we all need neighbours, the lifeblood of our communities.

Trees & Neighbours

Suburbs need trees. They are a source of food and shelter for birdlife, they improve the quality of the air we breathe and they beautify our towns and landscapes.

But ... they also block the drains, disrupt walls and foundations, hide the view, cast long shadows, and from time to time, fall down. Trees, especially other people's trees, can cause feelings to run very high.

Taking responsibility

If you're a landowner, the law says you have the right to the ordinary use and enjoyment of your land. However, your neighbours also have this right. Nobody may interfere unreasonably with other people's use and enjoyment of their land. This means you are responsible for ensuring your own trees do not cause problems for anyone else.

The issues

There are many factors that can be relevant in deciding what to do about a tree. Apart from health and safety issues, and the benefits to be enjoyed by each party, there is also the public interest.

This includes the maintenance of a pleasing environment; the desirability of protecting public reserves containing trees; the value of the tree as a public amenity; any historical, cultural or scientific significance of the tree; and any likely effect on ground stability, the water table or run-off.

If problems arise

If your neighbour's tree is causing problems, the first step is to talk to them. They may not even be aware of your concerns. Give them the chance to fix things up, and look for a solution everyone will be reasonably happy with. If, for example, you are worried about shading, it may be that the tree can be thinned rather than chopped down.

A mutually agreeable solution will almost certainly be preferable to a lengthy, costly and bitter legal battle.

For more information

The names and addresses of suitably experienced and qualified tree removal or pruning contractors can be found on the link below.

New Zealand Arboricultural Association

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