With many parts of British Columbia experiencing colder weather and more people lighting their fireplaces and wood stoves, residents are reminded that anyone who cuts, collects or uses firewood must ensure that it is harvested legally.
A Free Use Permit for Firewood is free and allows people to collect and transport firewood from eligible Crown land for their personal use. Getting a permit is easy, since the application form is available online. Alternatively, people can visit their local natural resource district office to apply for a permit in person.
The completed permit will verify where it is legal for people to gather firewood within a particular natural resource district. For each natural resource district, the firewood permit describes areas where firewood collection is permitted, allowable collection methods and how much firewood can legally be collected.
It is important for applicants to confirm that the wood they wish to cut or collect is on Crown land, not on private land or on a First Nations reserve. Maps of natural resource districts are available online or at the district office to assist applicants.
There is no charge for the wood that is collected under a Free Use Permit for Firewood. However, the applicant must:
- read and understand the conditions of the permit prior to signing it (the permit must be signed and dated by the person collecting the firewood);
- carry the permit at all times;
- produce the permit at the request of a natural resource officer, conservation officer or peace officer.
Cutting down trees on Crown land without an appropriate permit (or selling any such firewood) is illegal and could result in a violation ticket or fine. Unlawful firewood collection can create safety hazards for recreationalists and other forest users. It can also negatively affect ecosystems, including fish and wildlife habitat.
- The public can do its part to stop illegal harvesting by only buying firewood 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 harvested on private land, the buyer should ask the seller for the district lot number and timber mark number.
- For firewood harvested on Crown land, legitimate commercial firewood producers should have a Forestry Licence to Cut document signed by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
Anyone who wishes to notify the ministry’s Compliance and Enforcement Branch about possible illegal wood harvesting activities can call the Natural Resource Violations reporting line toll-free at 1 877 952-7277 (or #7277 on a cellphone). They can also submit a report online: www.gov.bc.ca/nrv
Firewood permit applications and maps of natural resource districts in B.C. are available online: http://www.gov.bc.ca/firewoodpermits