Data source
Date of text
28 Aug 2015
Country
Seat of court
Lausanne
Original language

French

Type of text
National - higher court
Reference number
1C_70/2015
Court name
First Administrative Court of the Federal Tribunal
Justice(s)
NA
Sources
InforMEA
Keywords
afforestation, Environmental crime, forest conservation, forest management, penalty, reforestation, sanction

A. is the owner of two land parcels located in a forested area. One of the parcels was fully covered with trees. In 2010, a communal forest ranger noticed that A. has constructed an unauthorized access road through the forest. As a result, an investigation judge condemned A. to a conditional day-fine penalty. In parallel to the criminal procedure, the Directorate-General for Environment of the Canton of Vaud ordered immediate suspension of the works and restoration of the forested area.

The Administrative Tribunal of the Canton of Vaud dismissed the action brought by A. against the decision issued by the Directorate-General for Environment of the Canton of Vaud. It ruled that it was not possible to regularise the road that had been built without authorization and that the restoration of the forested area was a proportionate measure.

A. appealed this latest decision before the First Administrative Court of the Federal Tribunal on the basis that the restoration measure would be disproportionate.

The Court dismissed the appeal ruling that the strict conditions under the competent authority can authorize forest clearings were not fulfilled. In fact, in accordance with Article 5 of the Federal Law on Forests, forest clearings are prohibited. Exceptionally, a clearing permit can be granted following a comprehensive balancing of interests at stake.

The Court also considered that the restoration measure complies with the proportionality principle. In fact, according to the Court, the construction of the road through the forested area could not be seen as a minor derogation to the principle of Forest protection laid down by federal law. Public interest in that case prevails over the applicant’s financial interests in that case.