As the evenings begin to get cooler, many British Columbians will start lighting their fireplaces or wood stoves to help keep their homes warm. However, people who cut, collect or use firewood must ensure that it was harvested legally.
Before members of the public collect any firewood, they must first obtain a “Free Use Permit for Firewood” to verify that gathering firewood is allowed in that area and to ensure that they adhere to local regulations.
Cutting down trees on Crown land without an appropriate permit (or selling any such firewood) is an ongoing concern in British Columbia. This activity is illegal and could result in a violation ticket or fine.
Over the past 18 months, natural resource officers from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations have issued $14,878 worth of violation tickets related to unauthorized wood harvesting. The government has also collected $156,179 in administrative penalties from unauthorized commercial ventures.
Unlawful firewood collection can also create safety hazards for recreationalists and other forest users, and can negatively affect ecosystems – including fish and wildlife habitat.
Firewood collection permits
A free use permit for firewood costs nothing and allows an individual to collect and transport firewood from eligible Crown land for their personal use.
This firewood permit is available at local natural resource district offices or online at www.gov.bc.ca/firewoodpermits
The permit must be signed and carried by the person who is collecting the firewood. To find out where firewood harvesting is prohibited in B.C. (for example, on lands set aside for conservation purposes or another public use), contact the local natural resource district office.
For each natural resource district, the firewood permits and associated documents describe the areas where firewood collection is permitted, allowable collection methods and the amount of firewood that can legally be harvested.
The public can do its part to stop illegal harvesting by purchasing firewood only from legitimate producers who sell wood obtained either on private land or through authorized Crown land harvesting tenures.
Anyone buying firewood should ask where the firewood comes from (Crown land or private land) and ask for a record of purchase.
For firewood that’s been harvested on private land, the buyer should ask the seller for the district lot number and timber mark number.
For firewood that’s been harvested on Crown land, legitimate commercial firewood producers should have a “Forestry Licence to Cut” document signed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.