Plant a New Tree or Pay the Price: Changes in Urban Tree Cutting Regulations

The Czech government is contemplating changes to the laws protecting urban and community trees. The proposed modifications aim to encourage individuals, businesses, and institutions to replace any tree they fell with a new one. A fee will be imposed if planting a new tree isn’t feasible. The changes are being proposed as part of an effort to strengthen the existing nature and landscape protection law.

The current law already requires builders to replace any trees they cut down or make a financial contribution. However, no specific regulation exists to enforce the collection of these financial compensations. As a result, the Ministry regards the current regulations as insufficient.

Given the ongoing climate change and its escalating environmental impacts, the Ministry believes ensuring adequate tree protection, particularly in urban areas, is crucial. Trees are irreplaceable to human life and the livability of cities, and the new rules are intended to enforce this protection more strictly.

The new regulations will apply to trees that require a permit to be cut down, namely those with a trunk circumference of at least 80 centimeters at a height of 1.3 meters above the ground. The priority is replacement planting and subsequent tree care, which individuals and businesses will be responsible for for five years. Fees will be imposed when planting trees within a kilometer of the property boundaries is impossible.

Fees for felling a tree depend on its size, condition, and significance, ranging from hundreds to over a hundred thousand crowns per tree. The office estimates that the average fee will be around 31.5 thousand crowns, resulting in an annual collection of approximately 551 million. The collected money will be given to municipalities, which can use it to cover costs associated with further tree planting.

In conclusion, the government plans to entrust the collection of fees to municipalities, not building authorities. Therefore, builders must report tree felling to a different institution than the one they apply for a building permit. According to entrepreneurs, this could lead to further delays in construction proceedings.