Check if you need a wildlife licence during forest operations

Wildlife, habitats and rare plants must be considered if you are:

  • felling trees in a woodland or forest
  • creating or managing a woodland or forest

You may need to apply for a protected species licence before you can carry out any work.

We can help you take the necessary precautions, comply with the law and apply for the licences you may need.

If you are planning on cutting down trees you may also need to apply for a felling licence.

Protecting wild and nesting birds

The law protects all wild birds, their nests, and their eggs.

It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly:

  • kill, injure or take any wild bird
  • take, damage, or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst that nest is in use or being built
  • take or destroy an egg of any wild bird
  • possess any live or dead wild bird or the egg of any wild bird, or any part of a live or dead bird

Any forest or woodland operations, such as cutting down trees, can disturb wild and nesting birds. You must check all felling areas before starting any work.

Wild birds and their eggs are most vulnerable to disturbance in the earlier stages of the breeding season.

The law protects the nests of Ospreys, White-Tailed Eagles and Golden Eagles all year-round, even when the nests are not in use.

You must apply the maximum buffer zone around the wild birds and their nests when carrying out your felling work. 

Check the buffer zones for each wild bird.

Bird licences

We issue general licences that allow you to carry out certain activities that affect wild birds. If a general licence does not cover your activity, you can apply for a bird licence for a specific purpose

Protecting wildlife

If you are carrying out any tree or woodland operations work which could affect wildlife or their resting place you will need a protected species licence.

If you have any of these wildlife species in your woodland or forest, read our guidance about what you should do:

Protecting rare plants

Some plant species that can be found in woodlands are protected by law. The types of protected rare plant species that can be affected by forest operations are:

  • Fen Orchid
  • Floating Water-plantain
  • Killarney Fern
  • Shore Dock

If you are carrying out any forest or woodland operations work, or your work affects any rare plants you will either need a forestry and woodland management licence.

Forestry or woodland management licence

You can apply for a protected species licence if you are working in a woodland or forest and are planning to:

  • kill
  • injure
  • capture
  • disturb
  • transport
  • damage or destroy a breeding site or resting place

Apply for a forestry or woodland management licence

Contact us

You can contact us for help at any time before or during your licence application.

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