Article published June 6, 2023
Reader question: I read in a recent Connexion article about possible financial help with adhering to débroussaillage obligations. How does this work please?
In France, there are laws for clearing gardens and areas of your property close to woodland – called débroussaillage – to help avoid the spread of forest fires.
In May, MPs voted to increase the fine for not clearing out garden space you are responsible for, from €30 per m² to €50.
This came along with wider changes to the law to prevent a repeat of last year, where almost 70,000 hectares were destroyed by wildfires in France.
Work required as part of débroussaillage can be physically demanding, with obligations including pruning trees and hedges, clearing dead foliage, and keeping a tree-free perimeter around your property all required.
A full list of what needs to be done, alongside the regional differences, can be found in our explainer article here.
Related articles: Can you mow your lawn on a bank holiday in France?
What help is available?
It is possible to clear your garden yourself, if you are physically able to, unlike certain other changes, which require a specialist, such as the removal of old fuel oil tanks.
As to financial help, there are no direct grants to pay towards services but it is possible to obtain a tax credit of up to 50% if you pay for the service to be carried out by an accredited firm, association or other body with official Services à la personne accreditation.
This applies within a maximum ceiling of costs of €5,000 for which you can claim a tax credit, per year, per tax household, for petits travaux de jardinage (gardening, including this clearance work).
A similar 50% tax credit is also possible for those who hire a home-help employee (salarié à domicile) to help with gardening. This applies to workers hired through the Cesu (chèque emploi-service universel) scheme. You can use our previous article here to find out how to set up an account to hire a gardener.
Finally, a 50% tax credit is also available if you use an Association Syndicale Autorisée, a state sector organisation that helps to limit wildfires. However, in this case this only applies to up to €1,000 of costs.
Tax credit claims are made on your French income tax return for the year in question, so the one filled out in May-June 2024, if you have work done this year.
If your income tax bill for the year is not high enough to fully benefit via a tax reduction, then you will receive the rest of the benefit in a bank transfer from the tax office.
Regions where it is usually mandatory to clear your garden include Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Corse, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur (see here for the exact zones involved).
The cost of hiring a worker is variable, but the overall price of clearing an area will typically be from €0.40 to €0.80 per m², depending on the work that needs to be done.