Eucalyptus trees, native to Australia, are fast-growing and hardy trees that are often planted as ornamental species in the United Kingdom due to their attractive, evergreen foliage and fragrant scent. However, the eucalyptus tree’s significant growth rates and potential impact on the surrounding environment have made it a subject of UK law.
In the UK, the Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation) (England) Regulations 2012, and similar regulations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, have provisions that can apply to eucalyptus trees. This legislation allows local authorities to make Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs), which prohibit the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage or wilful destruction of trees without the local planning authority’s written consent. These TPOs can be placed on any tree, including eucalyptus, if it is considered to provide significant amenity value to the area or if it’s under threat.
Additionally, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provides protection to certain species of wildlife that may inhabit these trees. It is illegal to intentionally damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built. As such, if birds have nested in a eucalyptus tree, it may be illegal to cut it down during the nesting season.
Eucalyptus trees, due to their rapid growth and invasive nature, could potentially become subject to the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 if they were to be identified as posing a risk to biodiversity or human interests. As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, eucalyptus species were not on the list of invasive alien species of EU concern, but any changes to that status would also apply in UK law.
However, it’s important to note that it is perfectly legal to plant and grow eucalyptus trees in the UK, as long as their cultivation doesn’t break any laws regarding protected trees or wildlife. Regular maintenance is encouraged to keep the trees healthy and prevent them from becoming hazardous.
Therefore, eucalyptus trees, while not specifically singled out in UK law, are covered by several pieces of legislation that may affect how they can be managed and handled. As always, it’s wise to consult with a local planning authority or a professional arborist before carrying out any significant work on eucalyptus or any other trees.