1. CURRENT LEGAL FRAMEWORK
On 1 January 2017 the Act of 16 December 2016 on Amending the Act on Nature Conservation and the Act on Forests entered into force. What changes most are the provisions regulating the issue of removal of trees and shrubs. Under new legal framework, pursuant to Article 83f of the Act on Nature Conservation, the requirement to obtain a permit for tree or shrub removal does not apply to:
1.1. trees with a circumference at a height of 130 cm of no more than 100 cm in the case of poplars, willows, chestnuts, boxelder maples, silver maples, black locusts and London planetrees, and no more than 50 cm in the case of other tree species;
1.2. trees and shrubs growing on land belonging to individuals and are removed for a purpose unrelated to business activity;
1.3. trees and shrubs removed for the purpose of turning fallow land into arable land.
2. CONSEQUENCES OF CHANGING THE ACT ON NATURE PRESERVATION
Following the initiative to cut down on red tape in respect of removing trees and shrubs, the number of removed trees grew rapidly. Cutting down trees in particular in popular sites of big cities, for instance, in front of the Warsaw City Hall, outraged many citizens and received wide media coverage. In consequence, according to press articles, another amendment of the Act on Nature Conservation is planned which will concern in particular the removal of trees and shrubs as outlined in clause 1.2 above.
For the time being, the bill has not been published yet and the scope of potential changes has not been specified, however, it is very likely that restrictions on tree removal will be introduced and enacted quickly. It should be noted that the bill introducing the above outlined changes was submitted to the Sejm on 7 December 2016, and the amended statute entered into force on 1 January 2017.
If you are planning to use the opportunity and remove trees or shrubs under the Act on Nature Conservation in its current form, you should remember that it may not be long until it is no longer binding.