Investigation into Woodlot Complaints

Chatham-Kent by-law enforcement officials are investigating complaints that woodlots in East Kent are being cleared in violation of the municipality’s temporary by-law to prohibit the clear-cutting of woodlots, woodlands and parts of woodlots or woodlands.

"BDS can confirm that the latest allegations of clear-cutting at the end of last week have been reported to the Municipality and By-law Enforcement staff are investigating these matters further. As these are active investigations, further public comments cannot be made at this time,” said Paul Lacina, Chatham-Kent Director of Building Development Services.

On April 26, 2021, Council adopted a temporary clear-cutting by-law that would have expired on August 24, 2021.  On August 23, 2021, Council extended the expiration date of the Temporary Clear-Cutting By-law to December 14, 2021.  On December 6, 2021, the by-law was further extended by Council until April 30, 2022.

Since the by-law was originally passed, the By-law Enforcement/Building Development Services Office (BDS) has investigated several reported incidents, but none of these investigations have resulted in any charges to date. BDS has also worked with several woodlot management companies to ensure that any proposed work would not be in contravention of the by-law before the work started.

To report an incident or for any further inquiries on the Temporary Clear-Cutting By-law please contact Building Development Services at 519-360-1998 or email shellyb@chatham-kent.ca.

Anyone who is intending to undertake some selective harvesting is also encouraged to contact the Municipality before beginning the work.


Temporary Clear-Cutting By-lawTemporary Clear-Cutting By-law Amendment

Temporary Clear Cutting By‐law Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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 sections 1.1(j) and (k) of the by-law.


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 the 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 hectares (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 sections 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 the application of the by-law.

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?

The By‐law will automatically expire on April 30, 2022, at 11:59 pm unless further extended by Council.