Is it almost campfire season? Do you know if it’s legal to collect wood from any forest in Germany or is it even a criminal offense here? It’s not uncommon for forests in Germany to be privately owned. So what’s the legal position?
Can you collect wood from any forest in Germany?
- Is it legal to collect wood in the forest or do you need a special permit?
- Where and when you can collect branches or even fallen trees for your use.
- What can happen if you get caught illegally collecting wood?
With the current gas and oil prices, one high is chasing the next. Blessed are those who have at least one fireplace in their house, or even have a wood stove or pellet heating system. Nevertheless, the prices of wood as a raw material are also rising sharply due to the increasing demand. So it makes sense to pay a visit to the region’s forest area and load your trunk or trailer with branches, bark, and whole tree trunks. But is that even allowed?
Who owns the trees and wood in forests in Germany?
The forests in Germany are protected by law and there are rules that people must abide by. That means you cannot collect wood from any forest without permission.
► Basically, the trees and wood in a forest belong to the landowner!
FACT: Every German forest has an owner!
Owner can be:
- the community
- a private forest owner
- a municipality/city
- the state
Dead wood on the ground and on the tree belongs to the owner
Deadwood is an important part of conservation and is left on purpose for good topsoil. It is also a valuable habitat for small animals. You see: the dead wood is also used. Next, we will clarify whether you are allowed to collect deadwood on the tree or on the ground.
► Everything in the forests in Germany belongs to the owner!
Everything means pine cones, mushrooms, bark, feathers, antlers, plants etc.
Can you collect wood from any forest in Germany?
In principle, you are not allowed to collect and take with you any wood, branches, or twigs from the forest in Germany. Whether it’s on the ground or hanging from trees. However, in some federal states, small amounts may be collected for personal use.
There are exceptions for dry fallen wood and twigs (“Leseholz” in German)
What is considered “Leseholz” or dry fallen wood in Germany?
Leseholz is wood that has fallen to the ground by itself. It is dead, rotten, rotten, and withered wood. It is wood that is not intended for sale. Cones and bark are usually included. Some federal states have special laws on Leseholz that allow using and collecting.
Table showing where you can collect wood in the forest in Germany
The table below lists the laws (mainly the state forest laws) with an indication of whether you are allowed to collect dry fallen wood (Leseholz) in your state.
|German State||Existing law||Statement on collecting wood|
|Baden-Württemberg||LWaldG BW||§ 40 Appropriation of forest fruits and forest plants, paragraph 1: Anyone may appropriate forest fruits, litter, and dry fallen wood to the extent customary in the area and remove forest plants, in particular flowers and herbs, which do not exceed a handful of flowers. The removal must be carried out with care. The removal of branches from forest trees and bushes up to the amount of a hand bouquet is not punishable. This does not apply to the removal of twigs in forest cultures and top shoots or the digging up of forest trees and bushes.|
|Bavaria||Reading wood regulation in the Bavarian State Forest||Subject to the following restrictions, the Bavarian State Ministry of Food, Agriculture, and Forestry allows anyone to acquire dry fallen wood for their use free of charge in forests that are solely owned by the Free State of Bavaria. For this notice, harvested wood is|
a) wood that has fallen to the ground by itself, is dry or rotten, and is not intended for sale,
b) wood or brushwood left by the forest owner or his agent after processing and not intended for sale,
c ) the bark lying on the ground and the cones.
|Berlin||LWaldG B||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is forbidden!|
|Brandenburg||LWaldG BB||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is forbidden!|
|Bremen||BremWaldG||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is forbidden!|
|Hamburg||LWaldG HH||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is forbidden!|
|Hessen||HWaldG||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is prohibited.|
|Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania||§ 31 |
Appropriation of forest products
|Section 31 Appropriation of forest products, Paragraph 4: Wood may be collected in the state forest for personal use if it is fallen, dry or rotten wood with a diameter of fewer than ten centimeters, as long as this does not endanger proper forest management.|
|Lower Saxony||NWaldLG||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is prohibited.|
|North Rhine-Westphalia||LFoG NRW||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is prohibited.|
|Rheinland-Pfalz||LWaldG RLP||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is prohibited.|
|Saarland||LWaldG SL||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is prohibited.|
|Sachsen||SächsWaldG||§ 14 Appropriation of forest fruits, flowers, and herbs, paragraph 1: Wildflowers, grasses, and ferns can be taken for personal use (bouquet). The same applies to the removal of dry fallen wood, mushrooms, herbs, mosses, berries, and other wild fruits. The removal must be carried out with care.|
|Saxony-Anhalt||LWaldG SA||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is prohibited.|
|Schleswig-Holstein||LWaldG SH||No special regulation. Collecting wood without a permit is prohibited.|
|Thuringia||ThürWaldG||§ 15 Secondary forest uses and appropriation of forest products, para. 4: In the state forest, the collection of dry or rotten lumber is permitted.|
What is considered “Wood theft” in Germany?
Wood theft is when you collect wood on a large scale and take it out of the forest without a wood collection permit.
► Wood theft is punished with a fine or imprisonment of up to 5 years.
For this purpose, foresters and the police equip felled trees with a GPS transmitter in the wood. The signal immediately sends an alarm when the transmitter starts to move.
Some German states issue wood collection certificates
Only a few federal states allow the simple collection of fallen branches for personal use. In addition, however, individual communities offer so-called wood collection certificates. After paying 10 euros or more, these entitle you to collect, sometimes even to fell trees.
However, the prices ultimately depend on the desired and required amount of wood in cubic meters. With an investment of 200 euros per year, you can often collect a volume of 15 cubic meters. You can get through the winter quite well with this. Nevertheless, the need is of course different for each individual. In any case, it can be worthwhile to ask your municipality about the exact costs and then compare them with the prices at the timber dealer. It is always significantly cheaper than electricity and gas.