This article is an excerpt from our Sefer
The prohibition and danger involved in destroying a fruit bearing tree-The permitted cases:
[The following are the permitted cases in which the prohibition of Bal Tashchis and Sakana does not apply to destroying a fruit tree, although some rule that some level of danger still remains, as explained above:] It is permitted to destroy a fruit tree for a bodily or material benefit, as explained above. For example, if a fruit bearing tree weakens one’s land and damages other trees that are better than it, then it may be cut down. [Thus, if a tree is causing damage towards crops of greater importance, such as vines, it is permitted to cut down that tree.] Likewise, if one needs the space of the fruit bearing tree in order to build there, or if one wants to cut it down because it darkens one’s window, then it is permitted to cut it down. [If, however, it suffices to cut off the branches that are darkening the window, rather than tear down the entire tree, then one must do so, and it is forbidden to cut down the entire tree.] Likewise, if the tree’s [wood] can reap more money in use for building than it can reap in fruit production [then one may destroy it]. This ruling applies by all other cases of destruction [that one may do so for a positive purpose]. [Some Poskim rule that in all cases of allowance, if one is able to uproot the entire tree with its soil and re-plant it elsewhere, then he is required to do so, rather than destroy the tree. In all the above cases of allowance, one must be certain that the benefit achieved through destroying the tree is greater than the loss of the tree. If one is in doubt, it is forbidden to do so. ]
Destroying a tree that cannot bear fruit:
It is permitted to cut down any tree which cannot bear fruit. One may cut it down for even no purpose at all.
Old fruit tree: Likewise, an old fruit tree which only bears a small amount of fruit and is thus no longer worth the trouble to care and garden it, it is permitted to cut it down [for even no need at all]. The same law applies to destroying all other items of similar scenarios [in which the item either serves no benefit or its benefit is so minimal that it is deemed worthless]. An olive tree which produces a ¼ of a Kav of olives, and a palm tree which produces a Kav of dates, are [considered useful fruit bearing trees and are hence] forbidden to be cut down.
It is Biblically forbidden to destroy or damage a fruit bearing tree without justifiable reason, and doing so is considered a danger. [Even when a justifiable reason is applicable, some Poskim maintain that the danger still somewhat applies. To avoid this danger according to all, even in the justifiable cases, one is to ask a gentile to cut the tree rather than have a Jew cut it down. If, however, one needs to cut if for the sake of a Mitzvah, then in the justifiable cases, one may have a Jew cut it down.] It is permitted to cut down a non-fruit bearing tree for even no reason at all.
The justifiable reasons: It is permitted to cut down a fruit bearing tree in any of the following cases:
1. The tree is weakening one’s land and is damaging other trees that are better than it.
2. One needs the space of the tree for building purposes.
3. The tree is blocking the sun from one’s window, [and it does not suffice to simply trim the branches].
4. The wood of the tree is worth more than its fruit production.
*[In all cases of allowance, one is to initially have a gentile cut the tree to avoid all worries of danger, and if one is able to uproot the tree with its roots and soil, and replant elsewhere, then he is obligated to do so.]
May one uproot a tree together with its roots/soil for the sake of replanting elsewhere?
Some Poskim rule it is permitted to uproot a tree together with its roots and soil with intent to replant elsewhere, even if there is no justifiable reason for doing so. Other Poskim however rule that one is never to uproot a tree, even with its soil with intent to replant elsewhere, unless one of the above justifiable reasons are applicable, such as one needs to use its space, in which case if one is able to uproot the tree with its soil one is required to do so, rather than destroy the tree. Practically, one may be lenient through a gentile.
Is a fruit tree that its fruit is not generally eaten by the populace considered a fruit tree in this regard?
Yes. Thus, fruits that are not eaten due to infestation problems, or due to being of low quality, such as wild apples and pears, nevertheless contain the above-mentioned prohibition.
Is a tree that did not yet begin to produce fruit considered a fruit bearing tree?
May Jew farm heart of palm?
It is permitted for a Jew to cut down palm trees for the sake of harvesting and selling the hearts of the palm. If the palm trees can bear fruit [i.e. dates] then it is to be cut down by a gentile, as explained above.
 Admur Shemiras Guf Venefesh Bal Tashchis Halacha 16-17; Bava Kama 91b-92a; Bava Basra 26a; Makos 22a; Pesachim 50b; Semak 229; Rambam Melachim 6:10; Tzava of Rav Yehuda Hachassid 45 and Sefer Chassidim 53; Taz Y.D. 116:6; Beir Heiytiv 116:8; Pischeiy Teshuvah 116:6; Taz ibid writes that this law is omitted in Tur and Shulchan Aruch, however see Tur Y.D. 349-350; C.M. 383; See also Avodas Hagershoni Y.D. 116 and Shvus Yaakov 1:159 who question this assertion of Taz; See Shivim Temarim 53
 Tzemach Tzedek chapter 41, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 116:6
 Admur ibid; Taz ibid; Rosh on Bava Kama 91b; Kneses Hagedola 116:31; Chaim Sheol 1:22; Chasam Sofer 102; Chochmas Adam 68:7; Bashamayim Rosh 334; Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid; Aruch Hashulchan 116:13; Kaf Hachaim 116:84
 Admur ibid; Chavos Yair 195; Lechem Hapanim 116:3; Beis Lechem Yehuda 116:4; Chaim Sheol 1:22; Kaf Hachaim 116:85
 Chavos Yair 195; Lechem Hapanim 116:3; Beis Lechem Yehuda 116:4; Chaim Sheol 1:22; Kaf Hachaim 116:85
 Admur ibid Halacha 16
 Chasam Sofer 102, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid
 Chasam Sofer ibid, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid
 Admur ibid Halacha 16; Rambam Melachim 6:9; Rabbeinu Yerucham 21; Bava Kama 91b; See Shivim Temarim 53:17
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to cut down even a tree that does not bear fruit, for absolutely no need at all. [Kehilas Yaakov, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 116:51]
 See Pischeiy Teshuvah 116:6
 Sheilas Yaavetz 1:76, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid; Shvus Yaakov 1:159; Chaim Sheol 1:23; Kaf Hachaim 116:86
 The reason: As the prohibition only applies against destroying the tree and when one uproots a tree with its roots and soil, it is as if the tree is still planted in the ground, as is evident regarding the laws of Arla. [Yaavetz ibid]
 Chasam Sofer 102, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid
 Chaim Sheol ibid; Kaf hachaim ibid
 Neta Shoreik 42 and Avnei Tzedek 42-2, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 116:51
 Erech Shaiy, brought in Darkei Teshuvah 116:51