Management and conservation of woodlots located within the County of Middlesex occurs at two levels, through the County of Middlesex and the participation of Private Landowners.
County Management & Conservation
The County of Middlesex owns and manages the County Forest which consists of 1040 hectares (2500 acres) within 27 tracts. The County Forest is located within three geographic areas: the Dorchester Swamp, the Big Swamp, and the Skunk’s Misery / Bothwell Forest Complex.
The largest component of the County Forest is the Skunk’s Misery / Bothwell Forest Complex which is one of the largest and most significant remaining forest blocks in Southwestern Ontario. It contains many plants that are uncommon elsewhere in Ontario, attracts area-sensitive and forest interior species, is an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest that contains many Provincially Significant Wetlands, and is home to many rare and unique species including Species at Risk.
Council has established the following Vision for the County Forest:
“The Middlesex County Forest will be managed to ensure the ecological sustainability of the Middlesex County Forest and their associated natural heritage features and social and economic values through the utilization of an integrated ecosystem-based approach to management.”
The County manages the County Forest including through a Council approved 20-year Management Plan and 5-year Operational Plans. The Management Plan activities include Forest Stewardship, Conservation of Natural Heritage Woodlands, Sustainable Forest Management, Science & Education, and Recreation.
The Sustainable Forest Management activities within the County Forest include silvicultural management (timber harvest, regeneration, forest health improvement, and control of invasive species) as outlined in the Management and the Operational Plans. The management operations that are taking place now will, over the long term, improve the forest and provide a long-term ecological and financial benefit.
County Owned Woodlots
Private Owned Woodlots
Information for Private Landowners
The County of Middlesex believes that private landowners have a key role to play to ensure that sustainably managed forests remain a part of Ontario’s future.
The County’s Woodlands Conservation By-law No. 5738, passed under the Municipal Act, regulates the destruction or injuring of trees within woodlands on private property to prevent deforestation, overharvesting and to promote good forestry practices. The By-law provides for selective cutting / commercial timber harvest within regulated woodlands under either Good Forestry or Circumference Limit practices. The County’s Woodlands Conservation Officer, appointed by County Council, actively administers and enforces the By- Law.
The Woodlands Conservation By-law No. 5738 provides exemptions for certain activities that can cause the destruction of trees, including but not limited to a licensed aggregate pit or quarry, municipal drain maintenance, and where County Council approves a ‘Council Exemption’.
Timber Harvest/Logging Notice of Intent
According to the Woodlands Conservation Bylaw #5738, County Council requires that private landowners obtain a Notice of Intent when they intend to cut or destroy trees in woodlands specified in the By-law.
Council may also impose conditions on a Notice of Intent, including conditions relating to the manner in which destruction occurs and the qualification of persons authorized to cut or destroy trees.
Additionally, a landowner may apply for a council exemption to the Woodlands Conservation By-law #5738
Timber Harvest/Logging Notice of Intent & Applications for Private Landowners
Note: Please submit a Notice of Intent 14 days prior to proposed start date if you intend to do any tree cutting or destroying in your woodlot.
Circumference Limit Harvest Notice of Intent (NOI)
If you are planning a select harvest in your woodlot and the trees will be marked by a certified tree marker in compliance with circumference limit regulations please use this form to file a Notice of Intent to Harvest.
Good Forestry Practices Notice of Intent (NOI)
If you have hired a registered professional forester who is in good standing with the OPFA and your timber harvest will be marked in accordance with Good Forestry practice Regulations please use this form to file a Notice of Intent to Harvest.
If you wish to clear an area of trees within a woodland to convert the area permanently to another land use, you may need to apply for a Council Exemption under the Woodlands Conservation By-law. Please contact the Woodlands Conservation Officer (WCO) for a preliminary review of your proposal in the field, prior to submitting an application. Once the preliminary review is complete the WCO will provide guidance as to how to proceed with a formal application.
In considering ‘Council Exemption’ applications, the public and agencies are consulted, and Council considers a report from the Woodlands Conservation Officer that addresses, among other matters, the following evaluation criteria:
> Native Carolinian species;
> Evidence of long-term continuous forest cover;
> Viability of remaining woodland;
> Species composition, diversity, and age class;
> Influence of recent disturbance;
> Ability to replant an equivalent area contiguous with existing woodlands;
> Effect on remaining woodland, Development Assessment Report, natural heritage significance criteria, rare/protected wildlife species habitat;
> Provincially designated wetlands / ANSIs / Regulated Area, Species at Risk screening;
> Previous exemptions
> Federal / Provincial / Municipal / NGO funding; and
> If planted or retained as a condition of a planning approval.
County Council has established a policy of ‘no net loss’ when considering ‘Council Exemptions’, requiring the re-planting of an appropriate and equivalent area.
Clean Water Program
The County of Middlesex supports the Clean Water Program through which rural landowners are eligible to apply for funding assistance for eligible projects through their local Conservation Authority. Eligible projects within Middlesex County may include:
- Milkhouse Washwater Disposal
- Clean Water Diversion
- Livestock Access Restriction to Watercourses
- Nutrient Management Plans
- Wellhead Protection
- Decommissioning Unused Wells
- Fertilizer, Chemical and Fuel Storage or Handling
- Septic Systems
- Erosion Control Structures
- Fragile Land Retirement
Supports can be accessed through the Clean Water Program webpage. In all cases, the initial intake is completed working with your local Conservation Authority.