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Woodlots in BC.

Would you like to know more about Woodlots. The sections below provide a brief overview of woodlot operations in BC. For more information please visit the Federation of BC Woodlot Associations at http://www.woodlot.bc.ca

What is a woodlot license?
A woodlot licence is a land-based tenure where an agreement is made between a licensee and the Ministry of Forests to manage crown and private lands. The crown provides timbered and logged land and the licensee agrees to manage this land and any private land contribution under sustainable long-term management practices. The crown portion (Schedule B Land) of the woodlot is usually 600 hectares in the interior and up to 400 hectares on the coast. The private portion (Schedule A Land) included in woodlots provincially varies from none at all to over 1500 hectares. The objectives of the woodlot licence program are to:

  • Increase the amount of private land managed under sustained yield.
  • Improve the productivity of forest land.
  • Provide opportunities for landowners to participate in forest management.
  • Promote excellence in forest management.
  • Promote local employment.

In addition to meeting the above objectives, licensees are also required to protect all forest values such as fisheries, wildlife, and water quality to name a few.

The key to successful woodlot licence management is to find the appropriate balance between timber production and accommodating these other values.

A brief history of woodlots
The current woodlot program in British Columbia evolved from the original farm woodlot program. This program was initiated in 1948 and it was designed to assist small farm operators by providing them with a source of fuel, posts, and other materials in addition to supplementing the farm income. However, by 1976, only 37 farm woodlots were issued covering just over 3,500 hectares.

In 1976, the Royal Commission on Forest Resources, headed by Commissioner Peter Pearse, recognized that a need for small-scale forestry existed in the province and that current policies were not working effectively. It also recognized that incentives would be required to encourage private landowners to practice sound forest management on private lands. Out of these recommendations, the current woodlot program was born.

In 1983, the first modern-era woodlots were issued with a combined annual cut of 6,000 cubic metres. In 1999, the combined annual allowable cuts for private and crown lands amount to approximately 1 million cubic metres. This represents approximately 1.5% of the total wood harvested within the province and directly contributes to long-term employment and revenues in the form of personal tax, logging tax, and stumpage paid to the provincial government.

A higher level of forest management?
Is the level of forest management really higher on woodlots?  We think so!  All woodlots must be re-inventoried within the first five years of being awarded. This information not only establishes a sustainable harvest level but also provides valuable information about the forest cover. High-risk timber types are identified and plans are then prepared which describe a logical harvesting sequence to address these problem forest types over time.

Many licensees and their family members are personally involved in most aspects of woodlot management. In some cases the woodlot may provide for the sole family income.

Woodlot activities are not limited to harvesting and reforestation. Many licensees find that their woodlots provide numerous recreational activities such as hunting, hiking or simply looking for a Christmas tree each year. All of these activities ensure excellent personal knowledge of the woodlot, enabling the woodlot licensee to make more informed decisions regarding forest management and land stewardship.

How to learn more about woodlots

If you would like to know more about woodlots, visit the Woodlot section of the BC Ministry of Forests website and the Federation of BC Woodlots Association website.   If you are interested in applying for a woodlot license, you should know that Canadian residents, who are at least 19 years old, First Nation bands, or corporations controlled by Canadian residents may apply. However,  applicants cannot hold another woodlot licence.

In 1999, the Forest Act was amended to allow a person with a small timber-processing facility to acquire a woodlot licence. Interested persons who have a timber-processing facility should confirm with the District Manager that their timber-processing facility would be suitable for operation with a woodlot licence.

If you are interested in learning more and perhaps even starting your own woodlot,  please use the links widget on this page to find the organizations and resources that will be able to provide you with more information and assistance.