Forestry Permits

The County of Wellington regulates the destruction or injuring of trees through its Conservation and Sustainable Use of Woodlands By-law (5115-09). 

The By-law’s goals are:

  • to conserve the forest coverage in the County
  • to improve the quality of forest management
  • to help landowners maximize the revenues from timber harvest on a continuing basis

A County permit is required prior to the cutting or destruction of trees in a forested area greater than 1 hectare/2.47 acres (woodlands). Doing so without a permit is a chargeable Provincial Offence. Please contact the Planning and Development Department for further information.

Wellington County Tree Commissioners

The County has an Environmental Resource Specialist/Forester and a Forest Conservation Officer who make inspections, process permits and enforce the by-law. If the by-law is breached (ex. cutting undersize trees, clear-cutting or excessive damage), the landowner and logging contractor can be charged with a Provincial Offence. These staff 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.

Types of Permits

Completed applications can be emailed to or delivered/mailed to the address below. Faxed applications will no longer be accepted.

Planning and Development Department
County of Wellington
74 Woolwich Street
Guelph, Ontario, N1H 3T9

Good Forestry Practices Permit

This permit type requires a silvicultural prescription prepared by a Registered Professional Forester. Timber harvesting done under “good forestry practices” ensures logging will improve overall timber quality and growing conditions for residual trees post-harvest, while also minimizing negative impacts to other forest values such as biodiversity, wildlife, and recreation. This allows for shorter rotation periods between timber harvests providing greater benefit to the landowner.

Circumference Limit Permit

This permit regulates harvests according to minimum tree size set out in the forest conservation by-law, as either a diameter or circumference measured at a specific point on the tree trunk. For example, under this type of permit, certain tree species cannot be cut if they are smaller than 46 centimetres (18 inches) in diameter measured at 1.37 metres above grade. This type of harvesting can lead to high grading where the biggest and best trees are harvested, and the rest are left. This can reduce residual woodland quality and increase the rotation period between cuts, but the by-law has provisions to mitigate some of the negative impacts.

Clearing Permit 

This permit allows for an area of woodland to be removed including tree roots, trunks and branches, and is typically done to facilitate conversion of woodland to another land use. The by-law does envisage that some minor woodland clearing may be appropriate, such as squaring off an agricultural field, drain routes, or creating an outside amenity area behind a residence. However, the clearing of a large area of good forest land is unlikely to be supported.

Statutory Exceptions

There are several statutory exceptions and 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 the Planning and Development Department.