The Halton Tree By-law 121-05 (PDF file) came into effect on January 1, 2006. Its purpose is to inform property owners about:
- Promoting healthy forests, tree conservation and Good Forestry Practices
- Protecting forest ecosystems and environmentally sensitive areas
- Preventing poor logging and clear cutting of woodlands
- Regulating tree harvesting
Halton Region knows that landowners take care of their forest resources and have a personal stake in its protection and properly management. The Halton Tree By-law is intended to balance public interests with private landowners' rights to enjoy and use forest resources on their property. In promoting tree conservation, Halton Region has a complementary program which raises awareness and encourages land owners to be good stewards of woodlots.
Halton's Regional Council adopted the first Tree By-law in 1983. Based on new legislation and as part of the review of Halton Region’s Official Plan (2001-2004), Regional Council adopted the new Halton Tree By-law 121-05 (PDF file).
The Tree By-law applies to owners of two groups of properties:
- Properties containing all or part of a woodland that is greater than 0.5 hectares (1.1 acres)
- Properties partially or entirely within the Regional Greenlands system
The Tree By-Law regulates cutting of trees in Greenlands, now referred to as the Natural Heritage System (HNS).
Under the Tree By-law, you can harvest up to 24 cubic metres of wood per year for your own use (i.e., not for sale or exchange) and you must follow Good Forestry Practices, which do not include cutting trees all at the same location.
You require a permit to harvest wood in the following situations:
- You harvest more than 24 cubic metres of wood product in a calendar year
- You do not harvest according to normal farm practices
- You plan to harvest without an approved Forest Management Plan
The Halton Tree By-law covers two types of permits:
- Tree Harvesting Permit
Required to selectively harvest trees from a woodlot while following Good Forestry Practices (no fee); it must include:
Tree Harvesting Permit Application Form (PDF file)
- Information on how, and how many, trees will be harvested
- Sketch of property to show limits of cutting
- Forest Management Plan (for tree cutting in urban areas)
- Special Council Permit
Required for tree harvesting that does not follow Good Forestry Practices; it must include:
Special Council Permit Application Form (PDF file)
- Approval by Halton Regional Council
- Detailed technical information
- $500 fee
The Tree By-law does not apply to the following situations:
- Removing dead or diseased trees
- Carrying out normal farm operations (e.g., clearing saplings along the edge of a farm field next to a woodlot)
- Removing trees already approved for removal under another process (e.g., development approved under the Planning Act)
Contact Halton Region for a full list of exemptions.
Administering the by-law
Halton Region’s goal in administering the Tree By-law is to educate and guide landowners on Good Forestry Practices. It also ensures that all landowners are treated fairly. The by-law allows Halton Region to investigate infractions (when the by-law is broken) and lay charges when necessary. If convicted, violators can face fines, restriction orders or both.
Good Forestry Practices
The Halton Tree By-Law includes Guidelines for Good Forestry Practices (PDF file) and Guidelines for Normal Farm Practices (PDF file).
Good Forestry Practices help forests to grow healthy trees and provide valuable forest products, while keeping important ecological functions and wildlife habitats. It involves tree harvesting (to protect various parts of the forest), maintains species diversity and minimizes environmental damage. Good Forestry Practices ensure that you protect forest health over the long-term health.
Woodland and greenlands
As an example, a treed area or woodlot is considered woodland if it meets the following criteria:
- There are more than 500 trees in a hectare
- Trees have a diameter greater than 12 centimetres (about 4.75 inches)
- The minimum treed area is 0.5 hectares (1.2 acres)
- Trees are no more than 5 metres (about 16.5 feet) apart, if uniformly spaced within the area
Woodlots extend across property boundaries; total woodlot size is not limited to property boundaries. Contact Halton Region Forestry staff to find out whether a treed area qualifies as woodland under the Tree By-law. Staff will carry out a woodlot area determination and sample-plot measurements for tree density.
Regional Greenlands (included in the Natural Heritage System) are lands designated in the Regional Official Plan. They include:
- Lands in floodplains
- Lands next to stream and valley corridors
- Environmentally sensitive areas
- Other significant natural areas
Oakville's Private Tree Protection By-law
Oakville's Private Tree Protection By-law 2017-038 (external link) regulates or prohibits the injury or destruction of trees on private property within the Town of Oakville. Its goal is to help preserve healthy trees and protect the community’s urban forest. Visit Oakville's Private Tree Protection page (external link) for more information.