You need permission to fell trees. It is an offence to fell without one unless there's an exemption.
We recommend that you download and read through our quick reference guide ‘Tree felling in Scotland – Getting Permission’ prior to submitting a Felling Permission application. You will also find our comprehensive guidance document ‘Felling Permission – Application Guidance’ helpful for preparing and submitting your Felling Permission application as it contains further information on exemptions, what is required for an application, how your application is handled, and other information including enforcement and appeals. If you have any questions contact your local Conservancy office.
With the introduction of the Forestry and Land Management (Scotland) Act 2018 and associated Regulations on April 1st 2019, the old regulatory regime was repealed. To ensure continuity of felling and restocking operations, and to minimise disruption, certain aspects of the Forestry Act 1967 and its associated Regulations have been saved. We’ve set out what this means in this Information note and further information can also be found on the Scottish Government website.
Applying for a Felling Permission
Step 1. Check for exemptions
- the exemptions section in our guidance books will help you judge if your felling is exempt from the requirement to obtain a felling permission;
- if no exemptions apply, you must apply for a felling permission;
- if you are exempt, you can fell the trees. Always check by contacting your local Conservancy or a forestry professional if you are unsure. There are penalties, such as fines, for felling without a valid permission.
Step 2. Check for local restrictions
- use the Land Information Search to see if the area has constraints, like Special Protection Areas;
- be aware of protected species, for example badgers and squirrels; and
- it is your responsibility as an applicant to ensure your felling operations do not contravene any laws or industry good practice requirements.
Step 3. Check local planning controls
- consult the planning department at your local authority to see if legal controls exist in the area, for example Tree Preservation Orders, or trees within a conservation area;
- controls may exist that apply to timber movement. If in doubt, check with our Plant Health Service; and
- when considering timber transport, use Agreed Routes Maps (ARMs). More details, including a link to the ARMs, are available on the Timber Transport Forum website.
Step 4. Complete an application
- speak with all relevant stakeholders to ensure any constraints are addressed early. You may wish to refer to the CONFOR Stakeholder Engagement Guide (2015);
- complete the standalone Felling Permission Application form (word) (pdf);
- submit a mandate form with your application if required (word) (pdf);
- attach a map(s) showing the boundary of the proposed felling and restocking area. Please use our mapping standards; and
- the application form is also available to woodland owners/managers registered on myForest. Complete the information in the Data tab. This generates the application in the Outputs tab.
Long Term Forest Plans, Land Management Plans, and Management Plans
Permission to fell trees can also be obtained through the approval of Long Term Forest Plans (LTFP) or Land Management Plans (LMP). You may also obtain permission to thin woodland through the approval of Management Plans or Woods In and Around Town (WIAT) plans. More information on preparing and submitting plans can be found on our website.
Public Registers for Felling Permissions
Scottish Forestry current maintain three public information registers. You will find standalone Felling Permission applications on the ‘Register of felling permissions and Forestry Grant Scheme woodland creation applications’. Felling taking place under Long-term Forest Plans or Land Management Plans is displayed on the ‘Register of legacy grant schemes and Forest Plans’. There is more information available on the public registers webpages.