Surge in the illegal removal of street trees during lockdown

3 July 2020
Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo(JCPZ), the custodians responsible for greening, conservation and preservation of public open spaces in Joburg is appealing to residents to refrain from the illegal removal of trees.

City Parks and Zoo has been inundated with requests to remove trees during the seasonal phenomenon of falling leaves during this time of year. However, it is with grave concern to the city as we witness an upward surge of the unwarranted removal of trees by residents. Due to weather conditions, leaves fall into properties, gutters and swimming pools; residents are encouraged to cover their pools as opposed to removing trees.

Street trees are the property of the City of Johannesburg and are protected by the strict Open Space Bylaws which prohibits the removal or disturbance of trees or planting of any vegetation without approval, of which permission must be obtained from JCPZ. These bylaws state that ‘no person may damage any tree on any public road within the municipal area of the Council without the prior written permission from the Council, only JCPZ is authorised to remove, maintain and prune street trees.

Joburg is one of the most densely populated cities, with an influx of job seekers, a spike in student accommodation, high rise residential areas and infrastructural development. The abundance of indigenous trees plays a vital role in combating and reducing the effects of climate change as they not only absorb air pollutants, provide clean oxygen but also promotes a sense of tranquility and beauty in residential areas and metropolitans.

Leaves retain the earth’s moisture through mulching and can be used to make compost in gardens. The removal of healthy trees has an adverse effect on our birdlife, plants, biodiversity as well as the city’s economy. Green lungs play a critical role in improving the wellbeing and health of people living in cities.

We urge residents and communities to refrain from illegally removing and felling trees. Failing to comply will result in legal action and fines being imposed.

Illegal tree removals and requests to prune or fell trees, should be reported to or contact Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo on 011 712 6600 or Joburg Connect on 011 375 5555.