Carta a um vizinho:
First of all, let me tell you that this law comes from 2006 and since then not much was made about it and only now, suddenly, the government wants everyone to comply with it as a way of preventing fires next summer because last summer was so bad... I just hope that the same kind of pressure is being made to those huge eucaliptus and pine monocultures, mostly in central Portugal.
Second, it's important to understand that there are not enough means (economic, tools, companys or working people) to do all the necessary land clearing work to comply with these rules in less than 2 weeks, nation-wide.
Third, Minho is not prone to big fires, because there's a lot of water all year long, not so much forest and lots of people still living on the land and by the land.
Now, considering that, let me tell you that, in terms of inspections, there are first priority freguesias, second priority freguesias and freguesias out of priority. And I'm afraid yours is first priority. [...]
It seems that the law says that fruit trees are not included on this legislation (if they are on farming land or a garden, which is your case). So I wouldn't worry about olive trees.
The thing is that oak tree of yours... At the first look it might seem that less than 5 metres from buildings all trees (canopys) are forbiden. But there are good news: Recently, some text was added to the previous law which states:
«Excecionalmente, no caso de arvoredo de especial valor patrimonial ou paisagístico pode admitir-se uma distância inferior a 5 m, desde que seja reforçada a descontinuidade horizontal e vertical de combustíveis e garantida a ausência de acumulação de combustíveis na cobertura do edifício.»
and that means something like
«Exceptionally, in the case of trees of particular heritage or landscape value, a distance of less than 5 m may be permitted provided that the horizontal and vertical discontinuity of fuels is reinforced and the lack of fuel accumulation on the roof of the building is guaranteed.»
Actually it seems that the bottom line of this whole law is to provide «...that the horizontal and vertical discontinuity of fuels is reinforced...» and that's what I've seen at your place.
It seems to me that if you keep:
- that tree with no branches on the first 4 meters (or 50% of its height if it's less than 8 meters tall);
- your roof clear of dead leaves;
- and because it's an isolated tree...
... you should be alright!
As I told you on the phone earlier today, if you do get a fine and want to refuse it, you can always try to claim the truth: that tree provides shade in your house, which is precious since it has a glass wall facing south, and it brings moisture to the soil, which ultimatly prevents fires. Oaks help prevent fires so they mustn't be considered to be removed in the name of preventing fires!
Actually, some kinds of oaks are legally protected such as the cork oak and the holm oak (or holly oak). Unfortunatelly not this kind (quercus robur) (wild oak?)...
If you're looking for further information you can ask:
- at the "Junta de Freguesia [...]";
- or at the "Gabinete Técnico Florestal da Câmara Municipal" at [...] town hall.
If you prefer you can have a lawer looking at your tree and at the law:
And you can follow these links:
I hope this is usefull,