On April 26, 2021, Council passed By-law 72-2021, a By‐Law to temporarily prohibit the Clear Cutting of Woodlots, Woodlands and parts of Woodlots or Woodlands in the Municipality of Chatham‐Kent.
Frequently Asked Questions
What powers does the municipality have to pass this bylaw?
The Municipal Act, 2001, S.O. 2001, c. 25, as amended provides in section 135 that the municipality may prohibit or regulate the destruction or injuring of trees.
What is a woodlot/woodland?
A Woodland or Woodlot is an area of land that is more than 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres), with certain densities of trees based on the size of the tree. The detail of those densities and sizes is found in section 1.1(j) and (k) of the bylaw.
Can some trees be harvested from a woodlot without breaching the bylaw and what counts as clear cutting?
Yes, the overall intention of this bylaw is to address clear cutting of woodlots and woodlands. A “Clear Cut” means “the removal of all, or substantially all, of the Trees within any portion of a Woodland or Woodlot, where the area of the Woodland or Woodlot from which the Trees are removed is in excess of 0.1 hectare (0.25 acres).”
As noted, a Woodland or Woodlot is an area of land that is more than 0.2 hectares (0.5 acres), with certain densities of trees based on the size of the tree. The detail of those densities and sizes is found in section 1.1(j) and (k) of the bylaw.
If less than 0.1 hectares (approximately a ¼ acre) of the Woodlot/Woodland is removed, then this is not considered Clear Cutting under the bylaw. So some selective harvesting is still permitted.
However, property owners are cautioned to carefully follow the terms of the bylaw and not remove more trees than are permitted. For example, access routes through a Woodland/Woodlot that require tree removal count towards the total amount removed. Property owners are cautioned that enforcement officers will look at the totality of the cutting performed to determine if there has been an offence. Owners should not try to find a loophole by performing a series of cuts to attempt to avoid application of the bylaw.
Property owners are also cautioned that this bylaw is just one law to consider. There may also be provincial or federal laws that apply to a particular Woodlot or Woodland, for example regarding species at risk habitat.
Does this apply to only agricultural properties or all properties?
The by-law applies to all Woodlands and Woodlots in the geographic limits of the Municipality, including those that are located in urban settings.
What can occur if I don’t follow the bylaw?
Any person who contravenes any provision of this By‐law is guilty of an offence and upon conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $100,000. In addition, if a person is convicted of an offence for contravening this By‐law the Court in which the conviction has been entered, and any Court of competent jurisdiction thereafter, may order the person to rehabilitate the land or to plant or replant Trees in such a manner and within such period as the Court considers appropriate.
How long is this in place for?
The By‐law will automatically expire 120 days after passing, unless further extended by Council. The current expiry date is August 24, 2021.
What are the next steps?
In addition, Council also directed Administration to undertake the following:
- Consider an incentive program, with the goal of preserving woodlots in the community and providing land owners with tangible and flexible options for being included in the program.
- Launch a full public consultation process with interested parties, including virtual meetings and opportunities for comment on the Let’s Talk Chatham-Kent portal.
- Conduct an analysis of best practices for incentive programs and woodlot preservation across Ontario.
- Revise and update, for Council’s consideration, the current natural heritage policy.
- Revise and update, for Council’s consideration, the by-law from February 11, 2013.
- Present to Council all summaries, findings, analysis, comments, feedback, updated policies and bylaws in a report with recommendations, within 90 days of this motion being approved."
Administration is currently in the process of developing a public consultation process and further details on how to participate will be provided shortly.
For questions or more information regarding the Temporary Clear Cutting By-Law, please contact Building Development Services at 519-352-8401 x 3215.