Trees are an important part of the ecosystem and therefore extremely worthy of protection. For this reason, in many cities and municipalities, trees can only be felled on private property with a corresponding permit. This can refer to all trees, individual tree species or only certain trees. Reasons for felling can be advanced pest infestation, an imbalance, possible damage to buildings from tree roots or other use of the area. The Tree Protection Ordinance, which can be viewed at the respective authority, regulates this.

file application

A tree felling permit must be applied for from the competent authority . This is usually the environmental, nature conservation or regulatory office of the respective municipality. In the applications, a distinction is made between tree felling, which is to be felled due to construction measures such as the construction of a building, and trees, which are to be felled due to disease and pest infestation or the like.

In contrast, fruit trees , dead trees and those that are below a certain level are usually not subject to approval .

The beneficiaries and owners of the property on which the tree or trees are located are eligible to apply. If third parties are involved, a corresponding power of attorney must be presented. The application should always be submitted in writing or by speaking to the authority in person. The application is often followed by an on-site appointment at which a representative of the authority is convinced of the necessity of felling.

Content information

  • The application may informally or using prefabricated forms done
  • Forms are available from the authorities or, in some cases, online
  • The application must be the location of the land in question include
  • This includes the parcel and parcel number of the property
  • In addition, the type and exact size of the wood must be specified
  • With trunk circumference and crown diameter of the tree to be felled
  • This is followed by a detailed justification that justifies a felling

At best, you add a sketch of the property with the trees that are worth protecting. Photos of the trees to be felled should also be attached to the application. The more informative the application or the associated documents are, the faster and easier it is to make a decision.


There is a so-called administration fee for a tree felling permit. The amount varies from municipality to municipality and is between EUR 25 and EUR 85 . Compared to the cost of felling without a permit, that’s a small, manageable investment. The fines that are incurred in the absence of a permit can amount to several thousand euros , usually up to EUR 50,000 .

If the tree is to be felled by a specialist company or a forestry company after the approval has been granted, the costs of the application, the costs for felling and removing the roots will be added . For a tree up to 15 m high, without removing the roots, they can range from 250 to over 1,000 EUR . Clearing the roots costs extra, as does heavy equipment that may be used, such as a lifting platform. Since there are sometimes very large price differences depending on the provider, you should always obtain several comparison offers.

Duration / validity

  • The processing time for a building permit is three weeks
  • Municipalities must decide on the application within these three weeks
  • The period begins with the submission of all required documents
  • If the application is not rejected after these three weeks, it is usually considered approved
  • If a permit has been granted, it is initially valid for one year
  • If necessary, it can be extended for a further year by means of an informal application

What is subject to approval

In principle, the tree protection statutes regulate which trees can be felled when and which exceptions there are. The prerequisite is that the municipality has such a tree protection statute. The aim of such statutes is to protect trees that are worth preserving on private property. Trees in the forest are exempt, the state forest laws apply here. Depending on the federal state, the statutes may contain different regulations. Usually, however, trees with a trunk circumference of less than 60 cm and fruit trees are not affected by the statutes or are not protected . This often also applies to conifers. They can usually be felled without permission. If anything is unclear, you should always seek information from the responsible authority and thus secure it.

In addition, special permits can be granted, for example if the trees concerned pose a risk, they have to give way to a construction project or the trees are sick. In addition, the statutes contain regulations on blocking times for tree felling . With a few exceptions, the felling of trees is prohibited between March 1st and September 30th in accordance with Section 39 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act in terms of the conservation of wild animals and plants . In cities and municipalities without a corresponding tree protection ordinance, trees can usually be felled without restrictions but subject to the blocking periods.

When approval must be given

Under certain conditions, a tree felling permit must be issued, which, by the way, is also regulated in the law. This is the case:

  • When the tree is sick
  • When it poses a risk to people and property
  • The wood has largely lost its ecological functions
  • The tree in question makes it impossible to use the property
  • The felling is necessary due to monument protection measures
  • The tree cannot develop in a species-typical way at its current location
  • Or, its felling contributes to the better development of the entire tree population

All of these factors justify the granting of a tree felling permit. Even if approval must normally be granted for the factors mentioned, the burden of proof lies solely with the applicant and the assessment is always at the discretion of the authorities.

Tree felling permit – this is (also) to be observed

In addition to the above-mentioned facts, there are other, in some cases, location-related points to consider. These include:

Replacement plantings

The issuing of a tree felling permit is often tied to various conditions. A replacement service in the form of a sum of money or a replacement planting can be assumed. Normally all trunk-forming trees and tall fruit trees are recognized as substitute plantings. If replacement plantings are not feasible on the property in question, they can also be carried out in the public green space upon request. Otherwise there is the option of making a replacement payment.

Right time for felling

The right time when trees can be felled is regulated by Section 39 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act . After that, during the breeding and nesting seasons of the birds, from March 1st to September 30th, it is forbidden to fell trees . Correspondingly, the relevant felling permits will only be issued by the responsible authorities between October 1 and the end of February.


A violation of the protective provisions or the case without authorization is considered an administrative offense and can be punished with high fines. The amount of the fines varies depending on the federal state and can range between 50 and up to 50,000 euros.

Problem border trees

Under certain circumstances it may be necessary that the neighbor also has to give his consent to the cutting of a tree. This is especially the case when the tree in question stands directly on the border of two neighboring properties, a so-called border tree. A border tree is a tree that crosses the border to the neighboring property either from the start or through its years of growth.
Both neighbors or all property owners have ownership rights to these trees, regardless of who ultimately planted them. The same applies to trees in gardens of condominiums and to special rights of use for a special part of the garden. If a neighbor does not agree to the felling, this can be sued if necessary.

Felling security

If a tree-felling permit has been granted, the tree can be felled. Depending on the scope of the measures, it can make sense to commission a specialist company to do this. In order to save costs, hobby gardeners can also use the chainsaw themselves. However, they should then have the necessary knowledge and experience in felling trees and master the necessary technology. Furthermore, the should appropriate protective clothing consisting of protection trousers , helmet with visor and hearing protection , safety shoes and work gloves be worn.

Before it can start felling, the danger area around the tree to be felled must be secured over a large area. No one should be in this area during the felling work.

In addition, it must be ensured that dead branches can fall down at any time due to the vibrations and that the tree has a free fall path. The direction in which the tree is to fall must be carefully planned to prevent it from traveling with other trees or damaging surrounding buildings and vehicles when it falls.
In order to be able to correctly determine the direction of fall of the tree, its growth form should be closely examined, among other things. If you trust yourself to be able to cut a tree on your own, you should always do so with several helpers. When in doubt, however, it is always advisable to seek professional help, as there is always the risk of something going wrong.

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