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If a tree on your own property is disturbing or diseased, it would be so easy to fell it. However, privately owned trees are also protected by the Nature Conservation Act and cannot simply be felled. Accordingly, the municipalities and cities in the various federal states still have the last word here. Therefore, an application for a tree felling permit must always be submitted before felling, but this is not always granted.
Federal states and the felling permit
In all federal states, without exception, a permit must be obtained for the felling of a tree, even if it is on one's very own and personal property. However, the regulations for the felling permit are regulated differently in each federal state. Above all, the granting of a permit is always very dependent on the respective federal state and the authority of the municipality, which has to decide on it.
differences between the states
Unfortunately, the law on tree felling permits in Germany is not uniformly regulated. The respective statutes for this are set up by the federal states and even within a federal state by the municipalities and cities and can therefore be very different. If it is not difficult to obtain the permit in one municipality, it can even be quite different in the neighboring municipality. The only fact is that information must always be obtained from the municipality as to whether an application for a tree felling permit is required before a tree is felled.
It always depends on the following aspects whether a tree may be felled or not.
- Is the tree diseased or a hazard?
- it is subject to the tree protection regulations
- What are the reasons for deforestation?
- an application for felling approval must be obtained in writing
- size and tree species
Since there is still no uniform regulation for the felling of a tree, the respective municipality must be asked beforehand how this is to be done. The granting of a permit is always dependent on the respective municipal office. If a request is made to fell a tree, the decision on this in another city could be very different from that in your own municipality.
When can felling be done without permission?
Again, this is regulated very differently from state to state. Nevertheless, as a rule, trees that have not yet reached a trunk circumference of 60 cm can be felled without a permit. All others are subject to an application. If you are not sure whether you are allowed to cut down your small trellis tree, you should ask the responsible authority in your community. These include the nature conservation association or the forestry office.
tree felling permit
The tree felling permit is based on § 14 BNatSchG, Federal Nature Conservation Act, which states that the felling of a tree can represent an intervention in nature and the landscape. There is also special information on this under “Nature conservation: Compensatory and replacement measures”. For example, owners of meadow orchards are not allowed to simply pick up a saw and cut down a tree, because these fall under the "biotope protection and biotope care". There is even talk of "species protection" when it comes to felling individual trees. However, the regulation is different for fruit trees in a private garden as a solitaire. Under certain circumstances, these can also be felled without permission.
tree protection statute
The federal states therefore usually have a tree protection statute, which the municipalities and cities have to adhere to when granting felling permits. But these statutes can be very different, since they are published by the respective federal state. Therefore, before felling a tree, an owner of a tree should find out from his municipality what the application for a tree felling permit should look like. The tree protection statute therefore defines the special protection of all trees based on the following factors.
- Trees provide habitat for different animals
- produce vital oxygen
- serve to improve the climate
- filter pollutants and dust from the air
- ensure sufficient humidity in the air
- dampen the noise in the cities
- enliven the townscape
A permit to fell a tree will therefore be granted based on these factors if such statutes exist in the state where the tree is to be felled, which is not always the case. However, if there is a tree in your own garden that is perhaps diseased or has grown too big and could damage a wall, then a felling permit may be given. The felling permit is always subject to a fee, although these costs can also vary completely from municipality to municipality in the same federal state. However, the management fees are within a reasonable range of EUR 25.00 to EUR 85.00.
tree felling request
Application for tree felling permit
A construction permit must always be submitted for trees that are on your own private property. Otherwise you could risk a fine. Since the legal provisions for the felling of a tree are regulated differently in every federal state and therefore also in every city and municipality, the owner of the tree should inquire directly with the municipality in advance how this is regulated here. In some communities, for example, if there is a risk of a rotten tree, it is permitted to cut it down immediately and only submit the application later. But in order not to violate the law, this should be clarified in advance by telephone with the responsible office. The application for a construction permit should definitely contain the following points.
- Plan of the affected property
- all trees on the property must be declared
- by tree species
- by height
- by trunk circumference
- crown circumference
- Photo of the tree to be felled
- Reasons why a precipitation should be initiated
Reasons and documents should be as meaningful and comprehensive as possible with the application, the faster and more successfully the application will be processed. However, if the tree is a border tree that was planted on two properties, the property neighbor must also be involved in the application and agree to it. Otherwise, no felling permit will be granted here either.
As a rule, once the felling permit has been granted, a new tree must always be planted. This does not have to be on private property, but can also be in a public facility, to which a new tree is donated. It also doesn't have to be the same tree species. For example, if a fir tree was felled in the garden, a fruit tree can also be planted for it. Alternatively, a sum of money fixed in the respective municipality can also be paid. This cost of a new tree or the alternative amount of money is separate from the administrative costs of the application.
Reasons for granting felling permit
Permission to fell a tree is not always granted. In general, it is particularly important that in addition to tree protection, animal protection is also a priority. Therefore, during the main nesting season for the various bird species, which is fixed at the beginning of March to the end of September, no trees may be felled, although exceptions also determine the rules here. Trees that pose a risk, for example because they could fall over due to root or trunk rot, may also be felled during this time. In the following cases, a felling permit that remains valid for one year is usually granted.
- the use of the property is not guaranteed due to the tree
- this applies above all to construction sites for new buildings
- the tree disturbs the other trees
- further trees cannot develop
- a monument protection is disturbed
- Tree has lost ecological function
- Baum is ill, there is no rescue
- Tree could fall over
- Things or people are therefore endangered
The burden of proof lies with the tree owner, who must prove that the above urgent reasons for felling the tree exist. During an on-site appointment, an employee of the community examines the tree, primarily to check whether the information in the application is correct. If, for example, an expert determines that a diseased tree can be cured by treatment and thus saved, then no felling permit is usually granted. Often a tree felling permit can only be obtained through a court decision.
Tree Protection Ordinance
In some countries and municipalities there is a tree protection regulation, which, however, is not recognized nationwide. However, this shows exactly which trees must be protected and therefore must not be felled under any circumstances. But this regulation does not apply to all trees. So here the following is regulated accordingly.
- Protection for coniferous and deciduous trees
- not for fruit trees
- does not apply to nurseries either
- Protection dependent on trunk size
- usually from 60 centimeters in circumference and one meter in height
- Trees in green areas are subject to protection
- Protected trees must not be damaged or removed
- There is always the possibility of an exemption
- Substitute planting in the case of an exemption
However, this regulation must always be evaluated objectively, because if fruit trees are to be felled in larger quantities, for example on a meadow orchard, then they could again be subject to protection.