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Tree protection

Legal protection of trees in the Isle of Man

Tree Protection page header

Trees in the Isle of Man are protected under The Tree Preservation Act 1993.  The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) administers the Act.  

Trees that have a trunk diameter greater than 8cm (approximately 3¼ inches) measured at a point 152cm (approximately 5 feet) above ground level cannot be felled without a licence issued by DEFA.

However, fruit trees (for example, orchard trees), trees which are clearly dead, and trees planted as commercial woodland do not require a felling licence to be removed or pruned unless they are registered.

In addition, permission is not needed to remove or prune limbs, or to reduce the overall height of a tree unless it is a registered tree.  However, great care must be taken to ensure that pruning is done in such a way as not to kill the tree or destroy its character.

Other legislation can also be relevant to trees, for example, The Plant Health Act in relation to Dutch elm disease and to the importation of conifers.

Registered trees

If a tree is registered, regardless of size or species, no work of any kind, including pruning and trimming, can be undertaken without specific written approval in the form of a licence from DEFA.

Tree owners who are unsure of the registered status of their trees should contact DEFA to discuss the matter.

The majority of privately owned woodland is registered, together with smaller copses, hedgerows, river banks and some private gardens.

Licences for felling trees or undertaking work on registered trees

In order for a tree to be felled, uprooted or otherwise destroyed, or for work to be undertaken on a registered tree, a tree owner must obtain a tree felling licence.

Application should be made directly to the Forestry Directorate's offices at St John's.  See downloadable documents for an application form.

Completed application forms should be submitted to DEFA and where possible, applicants should include photographs showing the tree and its location. 

A site visit may be required and, following consideration, a licence is either granted or denied.  Applicants retain the right of appeal.

Trees on development sites

Permission to remove trees or undertake work to registered trees may also be authorised through planning approval issued by the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture.

Where trees are located on development sites, a detailed tree survey should accompany an application to the Planning Authority. The authority will consult the Forestry Directorate for its views in such cases and these will be considered by the Planning Committee. A licence from DEFA is therefore not required where the removal of the tree(s) has been indicated to and approved by the Planning Authority.


Contravention of the Act includes the following:

  1. The cutting down, uprooting or intentional destruction of a tree for which a felling licence has not been obtained.
  2. The pruning, crown lifting, reduction or thinning or intentional damage of a tree in such a manner as to be likely to destroy it.
  3. The pruning etc of a registered tree.

On conviction, a fine of up to £20,000 per tree can be imposed.


When considering the felling or limbing of a tree, you are reminded that checks should be made to see if the tree contains active bird nests (especially between the end of March and the end of July) or holes/cracks used by bats to roost or hibernate in.

Because it is often drier, standing dead wood attracts a totally different insect population to wood which is lying on the ground.  If a dead tree is not in a position where it may cause a danger or nuisance, then it may be beneficial to wildlife to allow it to remain standing.

Contact for more information

Hills, Forests and Glens

Thie Slieau Whallian

Foxdale Road

St John's

Isle of Man


Telephone:+44 1624 685835

Email:Send Email

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