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Regional Tree and Forest Conservation By-law No. 30-2008

The by-law regulates the destruction of trees in woodlands by cutting, burning or other means to conserve and improve woodlands in Niagara.

The intent is to insure that, where tree cutting occurs, it is carried out in accordance with Good Forestry Practices. In the past logging operations often employed the diameter or size limit approach, removing the larger, more valuable trees.

The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority is responsible for administering and enforcing the by-law on behalf of Niagara Region.

The by-law prohibits the clearing of woodland except under certain specified circumstances. Selective cutting or removal of individual trees within woodlands is provided for but in most cases a permit is required, although the by-law does contain certain exemptions.

Woodlands Affected

Woodlands are defined in Section 1.37 of the by-law on the basis of tree density and size. A woodland may include lands on one or more properties.

The Tree and Forest Conservation By-law applies to:

  • Woodlands that are 1.0 hectare or more in size
  • Woodlands having an area of less than 1.0 hectare upon delegation of such authority to the Region by a local municipality in Niagara
  • Heritage and significant community trees identified and designated by the council of a local municipality, but only upon delegation of such authority to the Region

Delegation of Authority from Local Municipalities

The following local municipalities have delegated authority to the Region to deal with woodlands less than 1 hectare in size:

  • Grimsby
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • Niagara Falls
  • St. Catharines
  • West Lincoln

Restrictions in the By-law on Tree Cutting

Under the by-law trees cannot be cut unless

  • A Good Forestry Practices permit has been issued by the Region; or
  • The cutting meets one of the exemptions listed.

A Good Forestry Practices Permit may be issued where

  1. The owner submits the permit application form along with a Prescription or Forest Management Plan prepared by a Registered Professional Forester or member of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association and the trees have been marked by a Certified Tree Marker


  2. The owner submits the permit application form and a plan employing Good Forestry Practices and including the identification of trees to be cut.

    The plan must be prepared to the satisfaction of the by-law enforcement officer by a Certified Tree Marker with previous experience in Niagara.

Exemptions to the By-law

The by-law does not apply to trees cut or removed:

  • For an owner's own use subject to meeting several criteria (e.g., owned it for two years; Good Forestry Practices are used; no commercial sale of trees; a Woodland and minimum basal area are maintained)
  • To remove dead trees, diseased trees as identified in a Prescription or Forest Management Plan prepared by a Registered Professional Forester or member of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association, or hazard trees
  • By a registered farmer clearing for agricultural purposes, provided it is in accordance with good agricultural and forestry practices, the land is used for agricultural purposes within three years and the land is not in a sensitive natural area as defined in the by-law
  • For surveying purposes
  • Where a building permit has been issued by a local municipality
  • In accordance with a tree saving plan approved as part of a development project
  • By a municipality for activities or matters undertaken for municipal purposes
  • By a transmitter or distributor as defined in the Electricity Act
  • On an approved waste disposal site
  • On land described in a licence for a pit or quarry or a permit for a wayside pit or wayside quarry
  • For construction of drainage works under the Drainage Act
  • On Christmas tree plantations, orchards and tree nurseries

Appeals to Regional Council

An applicant may appeal to Regional Council if the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority refuses to issue a permit. Application must be made within 30 days after the refusal.

Tree and Forest Conservation By-law Advisory Committee

The by-law provides for the establishment of an Advisory Committee by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority. It is to be a technical advisory committee and is to review and provide advice on matters of tree and forest conservation as requested by the Authority.

The committee is to include, at a minimum, representatives of the local municipalities, the Niagara North and Niagara South Federations of Agriculture, the Niagara Woodlot Association, and the logging industry.

Stop Work Orders

Where a by-law enforcement officer is satisfied that a contravention of the by-law has occurred the officer may issue an order requiring the person who contravened the by-law, or who caused it to be contravened, to stop the injuring or destruction of trees.


The by-law provides for fines to individuals on first conviction of up to $10,000 or $1,000 per tree, whichever is greater. Where a corporation is responsible, the fines may be up to $50,000 or $5,000 per tree. On subsequent convictions the fines can be higher.

Contact Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority for Information

Send questions or requests for information concerning this by-law to:

Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
250 Thorold Rd. W, 3rd Floor
Welland, ON L3C 3W2
905-788-3135 ext. 247

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