Yew under conservation - still fell?

Because of their relative rarity, yews are protected. This sometimes creates confusion, since yew wood is still offered in the timber trade. Can yew be cut, or not? And what about yew trees in your own garden?

Different hazard classes

The yew is not everywhere considered a vulnerable tree. Worldwide it is considered "not endangered", but with an indication of possible future danger. This can be seen in the red list of IUCN, the global conservation organization that also lists endangered species. There are numerous natural occurrences of yew trees worldwide, especially in warmer climates:

  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Brittany
  • Italy (individual areas)
  • in the Balkans
  • in the Baltic and in the Carpathians
  • in Scandinavia

Protection in Germany

In Germany, however, the yew is on the national Red List of endangered species, where it is listed as "endangered". According to the current federal species protection ordinance, this means that every wild yew population is particularly protected, and the "economic exploitation" of the yew is excluded. It is indeed eibenholz in our trade, but this comes not from Germany, but from other countries with natural occurrence. Typically, a wood trader needs a certificate of origin from the Supreme Nature Conservation Authority for trade.

Reason for the rarity

Today, it is believed that the number of yews in central Europe declined mainly because it came to overuse in the early Middle Ages. Yew trees supplied the best wood for bows, spears and lances and were also used in many other ways. At the same time, the massive spreading of the beech has made many yews no longer habitable, especially in the forests.

Cases of yews

The felling of wild yews in Germany may only happen under very specific conditions. Even with yew trees in the garden you should ask for safety's sake at the responsible office, before these trees fall. If there is a risk, the permit is generally granted without difficulty, in other cases the permit may be denied or a reforestation obligation may be imposed. Countries and municipalities also have partly deviating regulations here.

Tips & Tricks

The poisonous fruits and needles of the yew can also be a reason that the yew in the garden is dangerous for infants. However, this can be assessed differently from municipality to municipality. In Aachen, a case was initially rejected, after a lawsuit but then by the higher administrative court as permissible and relatively classified.

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