PEI Woodlot Owners group call for changes to management regulations
By Jonathan Charlton
The PEI Woodlot Owners Association wants the province to relax its buffer zone regulations for woodlots, arguing they don’t need the same protection as farmland.
Under the current regulations, woodlot owners can’t harvest trees within 15 metres of a brook or stream.
Association member John Rowe, who lives on Union Road and owns woodlots in Queens and northern Kings Counties, said that rule isn’t necessary.
“What we’re saying is, in the woodlot areas there aren’t the same concerns,” such as erosion and pesticides, he said.
The association included this recommendation and others in a presentation to the Agricultural and Forest Committee last week.
The woodlot owners still endorse some precautions, such as restricting the harvesting to 30 per cent of the mature trees during any five year period and restrict the use of heavy equipment such as tractors and harvesters near the water.
Current rules allow woodlot owners to obtain permits to harvest those trees, but it’s not a practical solution and the permits can be unclear, Mr Rowe said. At the same time, while 15 metres may not sound like much real estate rivers can twist and turn and cut across a woodlot.
Mr Rowe said woodlot owners should be allowed to harvest mature trees near streams before the trees fall.
Rather than causing erosion, removing those trees can actually protect the ecosystem by preventing them from falling during a storm and damming up a stream, he said.
The two-year old association also wants to help jump start the lumber industry in the province. Markets have dried up since the early 2000s, Mr Rowe said adding they could be used for not only pulp but ecotourism, bird watching and cross-country skiing.
But of the 14,000 to 16,000 woodlot owners across the province, only about 1,000 currently manage their lots.
Mr Rowe also said the HST exemption on oil will discourage
people from buying local firewood.