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Tree and woodland management

New tree disease finding in Cornwall: please see the information on this disease (Phytophthora pluvialis) on the government website. This includes information on how to report any potential sightings of the disease. There are also details of the restriction zone in Cornwall and the restrictions that apply.  

Cornwall Council is responsible for the management of trees and woodlands in a number of ways which include:


As a major landowner the council is responsible for the safety and management of trees and woodlands on its land.

Highway Authority

As the highway authority the council is responsible for the management of trees which are growing within the highway. It has the powers (under the Highway Act) to require landowners to undertake works to trees. These are used if a tree might interfere with the safe use of the highway. The council is responsible for a network of approximately 4500 miles of road and nearly 3000 miles of public rights of way and recreational trails. 

Planning Authority

As the planning authority the council manages trees in Conservation Areas and trees covered by Tree Preservation Orders.

Trees provide a wide range of benefits and have an increasing role in reducing the effects of climate change. It is important that the Council manages trees to maximise these benefits. However, despite these benefits trees can cause problems through nuisance, damage and injury.

Report a problem with trees, hedges, verges and weeds

Cornwall Council is only responsible for the management or removal of trees growing on its own land or those growing within the limits of the maintained highway.

In addition Cornwall Council has powers to deal with privately owned trees that pose a threat to a public right of way or highway. Cornwall Council will seek to recover the costs of any related works from the landowner. 

Management of Cornwall Council's trees and woodlands

The Council is developing plans to manage its key woodlands, particularly those which are open to the public.  The council takes a risk based approach to managing tree safety. The council's approach is detailed within its Tree Risk Management Framework

The following factors are considered when deciding to undertake work to trees: 

  • the risks posed by the tree
  • the wider benefits the tree has to society
  • available resources

Trees with the greatest risk of causing serious harm will receive the greatest attention and trees with a very low risk of causing harm may not receive any attention.

The Council will not normally prune or remove trees where the issue is as a result of nature or a change of season. These issues include:

  • falling leaves
  • sap exudation (honeydew)
  • falling fruits, nuts or seeds
  • bird droppings
  • blossom
  • reduction or increased moisture to gardens
  • stem sucker growth
  • blockages or obstructions from tree deposits and leaves
  • presence of algae and/or build up of moss

The above are generally considered minor inconveniences.  However, each individual complaint will be assessed, and determined upon its own individual circumstances and available budgets.

Additionally the Council will not normally undertake any tree pruning works or remove trees which are causing general shading issues, loss of television signal or shading of solar pv/heat units.

By law you can cut back overhanging vegetation to your legal boundary. This is provided that you offer what you cut off back to the owner and the site is left in a safe condition (and subject to other legal restrictions such as Tree Preservation Orders, Conservation Areas or planning conditions etc).  If a tree is on a party (shared) boundary then you would be expected to manage the growth on your side of the boundary.

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