France homeowners warned on forest fire land clearing

Trees and vegetation should be pruned to within two metres tall where applicable, according to the law

Homeowners in France are reminded that in some regions and for certain properties, it is a legal requirement to carry out a “brush clearing” of surrounding countryside land, to help prevent forest fires.

This is obligatory for certain properties in the regions of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Corsica, Occitanie, and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur; and for the departments of the Ardèche and the Drôme.

The measure - from the forest code, article L134-6 - mainly applies to properties in more rural areas that are surrounded by countryside, and does not usually apply to houses or gardens in a town setting.

Anyone who is unsure about whether their property is affected should check with their local Mairie.

The requirement is intended to reduce vegetation density and danger.

It stipulates:

  • The pruning of trees and shrubs to a maximum of two metres high
  • Safe disposal of any vegetation waste (such as branches, cut grass, etc)
  • Thorough raking of the soil to remove dead pine needles and old leaves, etc.
Old leaves are some of the vegetation that could pose a risk (Cbaile19 / Wikimedia Commons / CC0)

This is intended to reduce the risk of forest fires spreading during the hotter summer months, and to make it easier for firefighters to intervene should an incident occur.

Property owners who are required to carry out the measure but do not, may be given a formal warning by their Mairie, and given one month to comply, before receiving sanctions.

Phone network Orange has also reminded homeowners that overgrown vegetation can cause problems for phone and internet wires, which can lead to heavy fines.

Any owner whose trees or vegetation are near electricity and phone lines are reminded that they risk fines of up to €1,500 per line, if damage occurs due to negligence and/or lack of vegetation upkeep, under article 1382 of the civil code, and article L65 of the electronic communications code.

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