If you have been relying on rules and regulations to avoid tidying up vegetation in the backyard, the excuse may soon no longer hold water.
Amendments to the Resource Management Act, which come into effect from 1 January 2012, have changed the rules applying to the protection of trees in urban areas.
From this date, any trees in an urban environment can be felled, trimmed or removed without the need for a resource consent.
The new legislation defines 'urban environment' as any section of up to 4000 square metres connected to reticulated water and sewerage services on which there is a commercial, industrial or residential building.
The exceptions to the rule are trees that are on council reserves, identified in the District Plan Notable Tree Schedule or protected by caveats on land title.
A consent will still be required to modify or remove trees in these categories.
Land clearance rules also continue to apply outside urban areas.
The Far North District Council initiated a plan change earlier this year to amend existing tree protection rules in line with the new legislation.
The Council is expected to formally adopt the change in January.
People in doubt about the protection status of a tree on their property are advised to phone the council on 0800 920 029 and ask to speak to the duty planner.