Have you noticed that a tree in your neighborhood is to be cut down? On this page we explain what you can do now to maybe still save the tree. Sometimes, unfortunately, there are compelling reasons to cut down a tree.
Protest against street tree felling in the course of a new building project in Schoneberg
A word in advance: The BUND is neither a tree expert nor the tree police, which can forbid felling. However, we can provide you with an assessment of whether the reasons given for felling the tree seem plausible and help you to save the trees. When the felling crew starts sawing, it is usually already too late. Please understand that we cannot advise you on site in every case.
The first question is always where the tree in question is located: Is it about street and park trees or trees on a private property?
Street and park trees
Trees along streets and in public green spaces are the responsibility of the district street and green space offices. Ask the people in the respective district office why the tree should be cut down and don’t be fobbed off with the simple answer that the tree is just sick. The crucial questions are:
The willingness to provide information may vary from time to time, from district office to district office, from person to person. In principle, you have a right to information under the Environmental Information Act (UIG). But: Ask rather first politely in the office, before you assert this claim. Access to information under UIG is subject to Berlin’s fee schedule and may be subject to a charge. If the reason for felling and the examination of alternatives do not seem plausible, seek support from your neighbors. Together it is easier to save trees.
If felling is imminent? Then it is almost impossible to prevent them, because a tree is quickly felled. As a private citizen, you have no right to see a felling permit. However, if you ask the professionals at the saw nicely, there is a high probability that they will show you the permit or the order. If you have reasonable doubts about the legality of felling, please inform the relevant green space office. If you can’t reach anyone there, you can call the police.
If you stand between the tree and the saw and prevent the tree from being cut down, you could be committing an act of coercion. This also applies to climbing actions and tree occupations. In these cases, costs for a height rescue can also be added.
Trees on private property
Private citizens cannot do whatever they want with trees on their property. The Berlin tree protection ordinance protects all deciduous trees, the Scots pine as well as the fruit tree species walnut and Turkish hazel, as long as they have a trunk circumference of at least 80 centimeters (50 centimeters for multi-stemmed trees). This means that these trees may not be cut down or damaged. However, the tree protection ordinance does have some exceptions. It allows felling, among other things, if the tree is diseased or in danger of falling or its existence "an otherwise permissible use of the property can not be realized or can be realized only with significant restrictions". Most fruit trees and conifers, as well as trees on roof gardens and in planters, are not subject to the tree protection ordinance.
What to do if my landlord wants to cut down a tree on the property? Neither tenants nor neighbors have a claim to tree preservation – however, the landlord may only cut down the tree if the exceptions listed in the tree protection ordinance allow it. In such cases, the district nature conservation office issues the felling permits. If you have doubts about the legality of a tree felling on private property, ask the authorities about the reasons for the felling and whether they have imposed replacement planting.
Neighbor dispute over trees
It is not uncommon for trees with branches or roots growing over property lines to cause disputes among neighbors. With such trees it usually becomes complicated. Conflicts of this kind are regulated in the Civil Code. It is important to note that regardless of who may be in the right – for trees that fall under the tree protection ordinance according to tree species and trunk circumference, this ordinance also applies without restriction. Likewise, in any case, the legally protected vegetation period from 1. March to 30. September to note.
In case of disputes with neighbors, we always advise to find a solution together with the neighbors. If the disagreement is so great that this is no longer possible, we advise you to seek legal assistance.