Forest Conservation (Tree) By-Law

The goal of Northumberland County's Forest Conservation By-Law (By-Law 2015-27) is to promote good forestry practices and the maintenance of woodlands.

Maintaining forest cover benefits the community by providing many ecosystem services such as:

  • Water retention and filtration
  • Air filtration
  • Beneficial insects and wildlife
  • Climate regulation

The Forest Conservation By-Law helps ensure that forest resources are maintained throughout the community over the long-term.

Do I need a permit?

Permits are required for the destruction of trees within woodland greater than one hectare for non-personal use or unless another exemption to the by-law is met.

Permits may be granted for:

  • The use of good forestry practices whereby a harvest plan (prescription) is prepared by a registered professional forester
  • Harvesting where trees are greater than a threshold circumference limit and a minimum amount of forest cover is maintained
  • Relief from the by-Law, permitting the owner to destroy trees for a reason other than what is allowed through an exemption

Types of permits

Schedule A

Good Forestry Practices Permit
  1. Obtaining a Good Forestry Practices Permit requires a prescription prepared by a designated Registered Professional Forester or Associate Member. Trees must be marked by a qualified Tree Marker, as defined in the by-law.
  2. Diameter Limit Cutting Permit
  • Diameter Limit Cutting allows harvesting down to a minimum tree circumference, as outlined in the by- law. Harvesting must not reduce the basal area below 15m2/ha.
  • Diameter Limit Cutting is considered a poor forestry practice that can lead to long-term negative ecological and economic effects on your woodland.
  • Diameter Limit Cutting is not permitted on lands benefiting from the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program.

Schedule B

  • Landowners that want to clear forest, or perform management activities that will injure or destroy trees and alter the forest so that it no longer meets the definition of woodland, must apply for relief from By-Law 2015-27 (Schedule “B”).
  • The applicant must identify the area of trees to be injured or destroyed, and explain the rationale for this. Applicants should expect a minimum wait time of five weeks for application review and decision.
  • Permits for clearing four hectares or more will require Council approval. At the County's discretion, some permits under four hectares may also require Council approval.
  • Approval of Relief from the By-Law does not constitute any other development approvals, and landowners must comply with all other regulations including, but not limited to, those of the municipality and conservation authority.

Submit a permit

Before submitting a permit, or for more information, please contact us.

To request a digital copy of By-Law 2015-27 Schedule A - Harvest Permit, please submit a request using our Document Request form.


Violations of the Forest Conservation By-Law may result in fines of up to $100,000 for a single offence and an order to replant any trees that have been illegally removed.


Are you thinking about harvesting your woodlot? Here are some resources to consult: