Applying for a licence

Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) controls tree felling by issuing licences. Unless any exemptions apply, you must get a licence from FCS before starting felling work.

1. Who can apply for a licence?

Anyone can apply for a felling licence but it must be issued in the name of the owner or lessee of the property. Lessees must ensure that their lease entitles them to fell trees.

In some circumstances, we will issue a licence to someone who is not the owner or lessee but has sufficient legal interest in the land. This means they must be able to fell the trees without the need to get permission from anyone else.

Note: selling land with a felling licence in place

A felling licence applies to the land, regardless of who owns the land. This means that the permission and conditions remain in force after the land is sold. Those who sell land with a felling licence must advise both Forestry Commission Scotland and the purchaser accordingly.

2. Check for land designations and other requirements

  • Use the Land Information Search (LIS) to identify any land designations that might affect the felling licence application.
  • Contact the relevant organisation for advice if felling is intended on or near an Site of Special Scientific Interest or Scheduled Ancient Monument.
  • Contact the local authority if there is a Tree Preservation Order in place or the trees are in a Conservation Area.
  • Movement of timber might require a Plant Passport under Plant Health legislation.
  • You might want to check the booklet Tree Felling - Getting Permission (PDF 1.8Mb) which provides full guidance.

3. Apply for a licence

FCS has produced a number of Guidance Notes that you should consider when making your application:

4. Forestry Commission Scotland processes the application

  • An acknowledgement of your application will be sent within three days of receiving it.
  • A site visit will be set up within three weeks, if required.
  • Details of the application will be placed on the Register of New Planting and Felling (unless it is for thinning only).
  • Application details will remain on the Register for four weeks.
  • Local authorities and other organisations may also be consulted.
  • Note that a felling licence cannot be issued until after the Register period expires.
  • FCS will consider the Forestry (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017
    • We will consider applications to fell trees to convert the land to another land use under these regulations. Applicants may have to apply separately for consent to carry out the work. See our Environmental Impact Assessment information.
  • We aim to issue licences within 10 weeks of receiving the application.

5. Conditions on a licence

Conditions will normally be included on the licence to:

  • Restock the area with trees.
  • Maintain these trees for a period not exceeding ten years.

Felling licence applicants must agree to these conditions. The Government has a general policy against not restocking woodland after felling, so that it can be used for other purposes. Licences to thin woodlands are granted unconditionally (without the need to restock).