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Tree protection legislation in European cities

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In this study, a survey on regulations and legal requirements concerning tree protection in European cities has been elaborated. It is designed as an information source for decision support in legal development, city planning and nature conservation. The survey is based on questionnaires on the one hand and on laws, ordinances and regulations on the other. Out of the 34 cities which were contacted or for which legal documents were found on the Internet, 25 (74%) have laws protecting trees in public and/or private areas. Against the background of rising ecological awareness, most of the laws were adopted from the 1970s onward.

In most cases the protection of a tree is regulated by means of the circumference or the diameter of the stem, while sometimes the height of the tree is the criterion on which protection depends. In other cases, protection is granted if a tree is growing in a protected area or if the tree is submitted to a “Tree Preservation Order”. In all 25 cities the felling of protected trees is subjected to an official authorisation. In many laws interdictions concerning trees are listed. Most frequently, it is prohibited to cut down, to remove, to fell, to damage, to destroy, to modify, and to prune protected trees, and to enhance their decay.

A law concerning tree protection seems to make sense, if it can be implemented in a non-bureaucratic, professional and efficient way, respecting the protection and conservation of nature. It should be structured simply and equitably, and its administration and implementation should be simple and efficient.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: ÖBIG – Österreichisches Bundesinstitut für Gesundheitswesen, Vienna, Austria

Publication date: 01 September 2003

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