Press release 14.07.2021

The Austrian Tree Convention advocates a sensitive and differentiated approach to trees. The mayors of the National Park region express their support.

Trees are of particular importance: they provide good air, cool extreme summer temperatures and buffer the water balance. On the one hand, trees in towns and cities are particularly important: Individual trees, parks and avenues. On the other hand, old trees in the forest play an extremely important role as a habitat for various animals and as a pillar of biodiversity. National parks fulfil an important function in this respect.

The Austrian Tree Convention was drafted by the platform "Zukunft mit Bäumen - Trees with a Future", to which more than 50 institutions and personalities belong. The reason for founding the platform was the increasingly frequent massive "safety cuts" and felling along public roads and paths and of individual trees, which are often carried out in order to legally protect tree owners and path keepers from possible liability consequences.

Old and therefore particularly valuable trees are increasingly disappearing from parks, avenues and settlements or survive only severely pruned back. Even in closed forests, trees are sometimes felled only for possible liability reasons. A study by the Federal Environment Agency presented in November 2019 confirmed: theoretically, a quarter of all forest areas in Austria would be threatened by such "safety cuts". Affected is the forest area along transport routes - from motorways and motorways to rural roads, forest roads and hiking trails.

The Austrian Tree Convention now affirms, among other things: "When carrying out maintenance measures, tree protection is the top priority. At the same time, attention must be paid to the reasonableness for those responsible for the trees and the proportionality of the measures. Trees are naturally grown organisms and therefore cannot be equated with a structure in terms of risk assessment. It is important to consider trees in a differentiated way in connection with their location and the safety expectations given there, and to adapt measures of control, care and information accordingly. Precautionary felling and drastic pruning for fear of liability consequences are neither economically nor environmentally beneficial. Therefore, a further development of the relevant legal basis is to be strived for, not least in order to create more legal certainty.

The signatories of the Austrian Tree Convention advocate the protection of trees, a differentiated approach to securing paths and corresponding legal clarifications. For example, a working group was formed at the Ministry of Justice to revise the relevant passages in the General Civil Code (ABGB). The aim is to clarify that the same liability standard cannot be applied to trees as natural structures as to buildings.

The Austrian Standards Committee has also started a process to revise the ÖNORM applicable to tree care measures in this sense accordingly.

A concept for natural paths is being developed for the national parks. Under certain conditions, it should be possible to apply less stringent standards for securing paths in favour of old trees and forest wilderness.

Further information:


General press enquiries: Isabella Mitterböck, Tel: 0664 - 34 65 629



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