Land clearance in France: rules, fines and tax credits for garden work

Spring is coming and neglected gardens will soon get out of hand

You can benefit from tax credits for clearing undergrowth - or face stiff fines
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Spring is in the air, and it will make unkempt gardens grow out of control. Now is the time to clear excess undergrowth to keep your property safe from France’s inevitable summer wildfires. We look at the rules, fines and tax credits this entails.

Wildfires in 2022 were particularly devastating, with a total of 19,821 fires burning 72,000ha across the country.

In response, France introduced strict rules on land clearance in 2023 to oblige homeowners and tenants to cut undergrowth surrounding their homes and access roads.

The effort paid off: in 2023 only 14,558ha were burned in 12,814 wildfires - 57,442ha less than in 2022 - despite another record-breaking hot and dry summer.

Read more: Why the French government wants you to clear up your garden

What are the rules for land clearance?

The rules vary between regions. Certain regions are categorised as Zonage Informatif des Obligations légales de débroussaillement (OLD), or Mandatory land clearance areas. These regions are:

  • Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
  • Corse
  • Nouvelle-Aquitaine
  • Occitanie
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur

Other - usually forested - areas are also categorised as OLD. These areas are highlighted in pink on the map below:

People in these areas are required to clear the land of excess vegetation for at least 50m around their property and 10m on either side of roads or private access roads.

This includes areas that they do not own, such as adjoining fields. Landowners cannot prevent them from accessing the area to do this work and if they do refuse it is their responsibility to clear the undergrowth.

Trees within this perimeter must not touch one another.

The local prefecture or mairie can require people to clear more than 50m at their discretion, in which case, you will be contacted directly.

Tenants are also obliged to clear the land unless their contract states otherwise.

What are the fines for not clearing land?

There are several administrative and penal fines:

  • The mairie can order people to clear undergrowth by sending a letter by recorded post. If this order is not immediately followed, the commune can issue a fine of €100 per day, up to a maximum €5,000.
  • Communes can also issue fines of €50 per m² of undergrowth.
  • Judges can issue a criminal fine of up to €1,500
  • In case of a fire spreading due to uncleared undergrowth, property owners and tenants can face a €15,000 fine and one year in prison.

Read more: France wildfires: MPs vote to hike fines for not clearing your garden

Claim tax credits for garden work

If you are tax resident in France, any land clearance work done on your property by a company, association or individual that is accredited to do services à la personne results in a 50% tax credit. Non residents are not, in principle, eligible for this.

If you do not pay tax (but are still a tax resident), you can be reimbursed 50% of the price for this work.

For example:

The maximum you can claim on your tax declaration for garden work is €5,000 a year per tax household, for a credit of €2,500.

  • In March 2024 you hire a company to clear 1,000m of land for a fee of €0.3/m² (which is the usual price)
  • When they have finished the job you pay the €300 bill
  • Before March 31, 2025, the company will give you an attestation fiscale. You do not need to give this to the tax authorities, but should keep a copy in case they want to check 
  • When you fill out your 2025 tax declaration on revenue from 2024, enter the amount you paid along with the name of the company into box 7DB
  • If you are eligible to pay tax, the 50% tax credit on the land clearance work will mean that you pay €150 less tax
  • If you are not eligible to pay tax, the tax authorities will send you €150 by January 2026
  • Note that the only companies, associations or individuals with services à la personne certification are eligible for this. These organisations must have either NF service, Qualicert or Qualisap certification, which they should make clear on their invoice.

    Do not hire a company to do land clearance work that does not have certification, as you will not be eligible for tax credits, and - what is more- they might not have insurance for any accidents they have while on your property.

    Read more

    Checks, fines, help: rules for clearing undergrowth around French home

    Can I get help meeting France’s mandatory garden clearance rules?