Trees are hugely important for our air quality: they filter particulates and carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen. In addition, their leaves and roots prevent flooding after tropical rain showers, which are becoming increasingly frequent with global climate change. And furthermore, they create a beautiful, green habitat.
There are more reasons why we depend upon trees and need to protect them from unnecessary felling. For example:
• their foliage filters direct sunlight and thus prevents the soil from drying out;
• they offer shade for people and animals on warm days;
• they form a sound barrier along busy roads;
• they create a soothing atmosphere, and have great aesthetic value;
• they provide for an enormous range of biodiversity, giving shelter and food to many animals. For example, birds build their nest in the branches; insects dine on the leaves and bark; and squirrels eat the fruits and seeds.
Cutting down a tree without permission is forbidden. The city district defines a tree as a woody plant with a trunk circumference of at least 31 centimetres, and a height exceeding 1.30 meters. Thinner trees are not protected.
If you want to know whether a permit has been requested or granted for a specific address, you should check with the permits department within the city district office by phoning 14020.
The procedure for a permit to fell a tree is as follows:
The land owner, or a delegate of the land owner, files an application to the city district for a permit to cut down the tree in question. This permit is called an ‘omgevingsvergunning’ (environmental permit).
Each week, the city district publishes the applications for environmental permits on its website. They make a decision within six seeks whether to grant or reject the application. This decision is also published on the city district’s website.
As an interested party, you can file an objection against a permit to fell within six weeks after it has been granted. The rules state that you qualify as an interested party if you can see the tree in question from your home, or if it is located within 100 meters of your home.
Anyone engaged in cutting down a tree must be in the possession of a permit. If you suspect that a tree is being felled without a permit, you should immediately call the Enforcement Department of the City Council at 14020. Outside of office hours you can call the police at 0900-8844. It is important that the enforcement agent or police officer catches the person cutting down the tree ‘red handed’.
If there is an acute danger that a tree will fall down, the city district may give an ’emergency felling’ permit. This may also be the case if the infectious Dutch elm disease is detected. In these cases, objections are not possible.
The city district office maintains a list of monumental trees in Amsterdam South. These trees can in principle can not be cut down. Stakeholders can nominate trees for the monumental tree list. Trees for which a felling permit has been requested but not yet granted can still be nominated for this list, but trees for which a felling permit has already been issued can no longer be included in the monumental tree list.
An advisory commission assesses individual cases to determine whether inclusion on the list of monumental trees is warranted. The criteria used include: age, condition, aesthetic character, rarity, and cultural, historic and environmental value.
There is a subsidy available for the preservation of monumental trees.
Do you still have questions after reading this page? You can contact Natuur&Milieuteam Zuid.