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Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Media Relations
250 356-7506


Comparing private land to private managed forest land

The Private Managed Forest Land Program was established in 2003 with the introduction of the Private Managed Forest Land Act.

After more than a decade of implementing this framework, government is reviewing the program’s performance.

There is a clear distinction between what legislation, regulations, bylaws and oversight apply to timber harvested on private land versus the legislation, regulations, bylaws and oversight that is applied to private managed forest land (a property class assigned by the BC Assessment Authority). Awareness of a specific property’s class is integral to the context for how forestry activities on the property may be regulated.

All private landowners, regardless of property class, are subject to the Water Sustainability Act, Drinking Water Protection Act, Environmental Management Act, Wildlife Act, Assessment Act, Wildfire Act and federal acts such as the Fisheries Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act and Species at Risk Act.

Regulations governing private managed forest land are in addition to those for basic private forest landowners. The Private Managed Forest Land Act establishes management objectives for key public environmental values, including soil conservation, critical wildlife habitat, fish habitat, drinking water quality and reforestation.

The private managed forest land program is voluntary. Property owners receive a lower property tax rate from BC Assessment by participating in the program. Owners must also pay an annual administration fee to the Managed Forest Council and submit an annual declaration of forest management activities completed during the year. They also must pay an exit fee, should they leave the program before an initial 15-year commitment period.

In exchange for their commitment to long-term, sustainable management practices and required time in the program, private managed forest landowners receive assessed values for land that are generally lower than residential, which can result in lower property taxes.

Additionally, while local governments have the power to adopt bylaws that place restrictions on forest management activities on private land within regional or municipal boundaries — including aligning their bylaws with requirements equivalent to Crown forest land regulations under section 21 of the Private Managed Forest Land Act — private landowners with land in the private managed forest program have the right to harvest trees and are exempt from local government bylaws and permits that would directly or indirectly restrict a forest management activity.