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Is It Possible To Gather Firewood From Nature For Heating Purposes?


Considering the price of energy, one may be tempted to save money by collecting wood from nature for heating. However, this practice is strictly regulated and even subject to fines of the 5th class. It is therefore better to inform yourself before illegally gathering wood in the forest!

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    Collecting wood from nature, what does the law say?

    Private forests and public forests represent the two types of natural areas where firewood can be found.

    Private forests

    Private forests represent 75% of the French forest cover and it is forbidden to walk in them. Consequently, it is also forbidden to collect wood for heating. According to Article 547 of the Civil Code, the wood belongs to the owner of the plot, whether it is dead wood fallen on the ground or cut and stacked wood.


    Collecting wood in a private forest is therefore considered theft. However, according to Article 311-3 of the Penal Code, theft is punishable by three years imprisonment and a fine of €45,000.

    Public forests

    The same applies in public forests where collecting wood is also prohibited. As reported by the National Forestry Office, dead wood is essential for biodiversity.


    Indeed, it serves as shelter for certain animals and insects, enriches the soil as it decomposes, and helps the development of plants and organisms such as lichens and fungi. Dead wood is intentionally left on the ground to preserve this forest biodiversity.

    Note: it goes without saying that if collecting dead wood from nature is prohibited, cutting wood without authorization is also prohibited. Only specialized associations can sometimes obtain authorization from the National Forestry Office to cut wood in a public forest. However, even in this case, it is prohibited to cut wood that is less than 20 cm in diameter. Offenders are subject to a fine of €1,500.


    Is it legally allowed to collect wood from nature?

    Affouage represents the only way to collect wood from nature. This practice, dating back to the Middle Ages, allows residents of a locality to take a portion of their firewood from the surrounding public forests.

    Organized and regulated by the National Forestry Office, affouage is governed by Articles L 145.1 of the Forest Code and therefore cannot be done in any way.

    Here, it is the Municipal Council that can decide to sell or provide the wood from each forest cutting to the inhabitants of the municipality, either for a fee or for free. In exchange, the beneficiaries must participate in the maintenance of the forest.

    To practice affouage, you must therefore contact the services of your town hall to obtain the necessary authorizations.

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