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The County of Wellington passed a new Forest Conservation By-law on September 24, 2009. The by-law's goals are:
A County permit is required prior to the cutting or destruction of more than 20 trees in a "woodlands" [i.e. a forested area 1 hectare or larger]. Doing so without a permit is a Provincial Offence.
The County has two Tree Conservation Officers who make inspections, process permits and enforce the By-law. If the by-law is breached (e.g. cutting undersize trees, clear-cutting or excessive damage), the landowner and logging contractor can be charged with a Provincial Offence. The officers perform an important educational function, explaining the value of trees and forest management to landowners. They report to the County's Planning and Development Department.
This requires the trees to be harvested using "good forestry practices," according to a silvicultural prescription prepared by a Registered Professional Forester. This is the most desirable type of harvest as it ensures forest sustainability and improvement.
This permit regulates harvests according to the size minimums set out in the tree by-law, either diameter or circumference (i.e. trees cannot be cut that have a diameter smaller than 18 inches).
The by-law does envisage that some minor clear cutting may be appropriate, such as squaring-off an agricultural field, drain routes, creating an outside amenity area behind a residence. However, the clearing a large area of good forest land is unlikely to be supported.
There are several statutory exceptions, situations where the tree by-law does not apply. Cutting in these instances can legally occur and no permit is required from the County. Please review Section 3 of the by-law for details.
If in doubt or if you have any questions, please contact one of our Forest Conservation By-law Officers:
John Benham 519.846.3394