Energy sobriety: what are you risking if you collect wood in the forest to heat yourself?

Do you warm yourself with wood and wonder if you can collect wood in the forest? The Independent answers you.

Gathering wood in the forest for heating? Is it allowed?

As you can imagine, the answer is no. The dead wood that you could collect in the forest belongs to the owner of the parcel in question, which can be the State, a municipality, the region, or a private owner (individual). The wood on the ground belongs to the owner just like the trees which grow there, the mushrooms, the flowers, etc. If the private natural spaces are accessible to walkers, the woods are not, even if a tolerance exists for fungi.

“The natural or industrial fruits of the earth, the civil fruits, the growth of animals, belong to the owner by right of accession” provides in fact article 547 of the Civil Code.


If you were to be caught harvesting wood on private property, you could be prosecuted for theft (fraudulent embezzlement of someone else’s thing). The maximum penalty incurred by the Penal Code for this offense is a fine of 45,000 euros and 3 years’ imprisonment.

Since the Middle Ages, however, the possibility of “making one’s wood” in the communal forests has persisted in certain regions. Called right of affouage, it is recognized to the inhabitants of a commune or a section of commune who fulfill certain conditions of aptitude to take firewood on the communal forests.

The affouage is supervised by the municipal council which defines the conditions of exercise (domiciliation, targeted wood, mode of distribution, mode of exploitation, etc.) recalls the National Office of Forests.

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