Do I Need a Permit to Cut Down a Tree on my Property?

November 11, 2022

Circumstances often make cutting trees on private property and many other areas necessary. For instance, sometimes, homeowners have to get rid of plants growing near walking trails or parks because they are a safety risk.

But before you remove a tree in an area like Alberta, ask yourself this question: do you have to get a permit to cut down a tree? Well, the answer is it depends. Also, there’s no one-size-fits-all documentation that covers all logging projects.

If you want to learn more about Alberta tree cutting permits, their requirements, and the application process, you’re in the right place. Read on!

Personal Use Forest Products Permit vs Local Timber Permit

Man cutting a Christmas tree

You need a Personal Use Forest Product Permit (PUFFP) to harvest or collect forest products for personal use rather than for sale or trade. That may include firewood, Christmas trees, mushrooms, berries, and other non-timber forest products.

Overall, people collect personal use forest products in small quantities without any commercial purposes in mind. This activity is typically regulated by provincial or local governments and may be subject to certain restrictions or permits. Also, authorities often encourage people to collect personal use forest products because it promotes stewardship and conservation of forest resources.

On the other hand, a Local Timber Permit (LTP) is a document that gives your or your company permission to harvest timber from a specific area of land. It specifies the location of the land, the types and quantities of timber you can harvest, and the time frame within which you must carry out the project.

commercial log pile

You can get a Local Timber Permit from your forest area office. The document is subject to various regulations and laws that aim to ensure the sustainable and responsible management of forest resources.

To obtain this permit, you, the applicant, must prove that you have the necessary skills, equipment, and experience to harvest timber safely and responsibly.

To summarize, a PUFFP lets you gather small amounts of forest products, such as firewood or Christmas trees, for personal use. Conversely, a Local Timber Permit allows you to harvest timber from your land for domestic use. But both permits are intended for small-scale, non-commercial activities and limit the number of forest products you can gather.

Which One Would I Need?

The type of Alberta tree-cutting permit your project demands primarily depends on the intended use and quantity of trees you plan on harvesting.

  • Intended Use
man carrying a block of wood

The first factor determining the tree-cutting permit you need is the intended use of the tree you plan to cut down. You need the right permit for a specific project, such as removing trees for land development, logging for commercial purposes, or removing trees for personal use on private property.

For instance, if you want to cut down a tree and use it for firewood or as a Christmas tree, you must get a Personal Use Forest Products Permit. But if your project involves larger amounts of timber, logging requires a Local Timber Permit.

  • Quantity
Crane in forest loading logs in the truck.

The other factor that determines the tree-cutting permit your project needs is the number of trees you want to log. For example, suppose you want to clear a large area of land with around 50-70 large coniferous trees or 40-60 large deciduous trees for development. In that case, you may need to obtain a Local Timber Permit to remove such a large number of trees.

Conversely, a PUFPP can do just fine if your needs are smaller. For instance, you can use this permit to cut down 3 Christmas trees or transplant 20 trees or less.

In summary, the tree-cutting permit you need may depend on the intended use of the trees being cut and the number of trees being removed. It is important to research and understand the specific permit requirements in your area to ensure that you comply with local laws and regulations.

How To Get Tree Cutting Permit

man cutting tree branches with chainsaw

As a resident of Alberta, to obtain a Personal Use Forest Product Permit, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Eligibility: To be eligible for a PUFPP tree-cutting permit in Alberta, you must be a resident of this province, and your project must revolve around personal use only (not resale or commercial use).
  • Location: The PUFPP is only valid on public land within Alberta’s Forest Management Area, including most of the province’s designated Crown land forests. You cannot obtain this permit when logging on private land or within Alberta’s National Parks.
  • Product limits: PUFPPs limit the amount and type of products you may harvest. For example, the limits for firewood permits typically allow you to harvest up to 5 cubic meters. Also, you can only cut up to 7 coniferous trees for said purpose.

In addition to these requirements, when harvesting forest products, you must adhere to certain regulations and guidelines, such as maintaining a safe distance from power lines, roads, and other infrastructure. Also, respecting any temporary closures or restrictions put in place to protect wildlife or other natural resources is crucial.

We can’t overemphasize this point. You can’t use a PUFPP when cutting trees on private property, only on provincial Crown land.

A pile of logs in a green forest

If your project requires you to obtain a Local Timber Permit, you must apply for a permit through Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD). But to do that successfully, you must do the following:

  1. Your contact info, including your name, address, and phone number
  2. Provide the location of the timber you wish to harvest, including the legal land description and location map
  3. Specify the species and volume of timber you wish to harvest
  4. State the purpose of the harvest, such as for domestic use or commercial sale
  5. Cover any applicable fees

Finally, depending on the specific circumstances of your purported harvest, local authorities may require you to provide additional documentation like a forestry or wildlife management plan. Ensure you have all the necessary information and documentation before applying for a Local Timber Permit to avoid unnecessary delays in the process or outright rejections.

Would you like to apply for a Christmas tree-cutting permit or any other PUFPP? Visit the nearest forest area office in Alberta or get it online. Also, if your project requires an LTP, visit your local forest area office.

How Much Is a Tree Cutting Permit

man cutting a christmas tree

By and large, the price of a tree-cutting permit in many regions varies depending on several factors, including:

  • Location: A tree’s location can significantly influence the cost of a permit. For example, the necessary documentation may cost you more in a densely populated urban area where trees are scarcer, and the impact of cutting one down is likely to be greater. Conversely, a tree-cutting permit may cost less in a rural region with galore wooded areas.
  • Type of tree: The type of tree can also determine the price of a tree-cutting permit. Some species, such as redwood or oak, are more valuable since they have a higher environmental impact, which leads to higher fees.
  • Reason for logging: The reasons for cutting down a tree may also impact the permit cost. For example, if you seek permission to cut down a hazardous tree for safety reasons, you may have to pay less than when you want to remove it for development purposes.

To recap, in most cases, two entities issue tree-cutting permits: local government agencies and conservation organizations. Moreover, the cost of a permit may vary depending on numerous factors, including a tree’s location and reasons for logging.

Considering the above, a Personal Use Forest Product Permit is free in Alberta. However, a Local Timber Permit requires you, the applicant, to pay a $20 non-refundable fee.

Cutting a Tree Without a Permit

trees in fall

In most regions in Canada, cutting a tree without a permit can result in several penalties. These depend on various factors, including the jurisdiction in which the tree in question is located and the scenario’s specific circumstances. That said, some potential penalties for cutting a tree without a permit in the Great White North include the following:

  • Fines

Depending on the jurisdiction, logging a tree without the required permit can result in fines ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. More often than not, authorities determine fines based on the damage caused by the activity and the value of the tree.

  • Restoration or replacement

Sometimes, when you illegally cut down a tree without a permit, you may be required to restore or replace the tree. In other scenarios, authorities may demand you contribute to the cost of restoration or replacement. Simply put, your actions may force you to plant a new tree or cover the cost of planting and caring for a new one.

  • Legal action

Depending on the severity of the case, you, the person who’s cut down a tree without a permit, may face legal action, including civil or criminal charges. That is more so if you do it on a property that doesn’t belong to you. Legal action may result in additional fines, imprisonment, or other penalties.

  • Damage to reputation

Cutting down a tree without a permit may damage your reputation, especially if the plant is on public land or is of significant historical or cultural value. That can impact your ability to obtain permits or licenses in the future.

Please note that the penalties you will likely incur may vary depending on determiners like the specific circumstances of the case and the jurisdiction in which the tree you’ve logged is located. And before cutting down a tree, apply for a permit and follow all regulations.

Do You Need a Permit to Cut Down a Dead Tree?

dead tree

Before proceeding, let’s discuss a few key benefits of cutting down dead trees.

  • Safety

One of the main benefits of cutting down a dead tree is safety.

Dead trees are often brittle and highly susceptible to snapping. As such, they pose a significant risk of falling over, injuring people or damaging homes and other structures. By cutting down a dead tree, you prevent such events from happening. For example, if a dead tree is located near a park or school playground, cutting it down can help prevent injury to children and passersby.

  • Disease prevention

Dead trees often harbour many diseases, from leaf blight to powdery mildew. Sadly, these can spread to other healthy plants and kill them.

By removing a dead tree, you curb and prevent the spread of diseases and consequently protect the other plants. For instance, if you have a dead oak tree on your property, cutting it down staves off the spread of oak wilt, a deadly fungal disease that can kill oak trees within a couple of weeks.

  • Aesthetics

Dead trees can be an eyesore, with haphazardly broken branches and other vermin-infested parts. Cutting down such plants is necessary if you don’t want such a plant to tarnish your property’s curb appeal.

Remember, since removing a dead tree can make your property look more attractive and well-maintained, it positively impacts its value. So, if you plan on selling soon, get rid of all the diseased, dead, or dying trees in your yard.

Before we sign off, cutting down a dead tree has numerous benefits, including enhanced safety, disease prevention, and improved curbed appeal. However, before removing a specific plant, consider all potential risks and benefits carefully.

Now, the million-dollar question: do you need a permit to cut down a dead tree? The answer is it depends.

In Canada, whether or not you need a permit to cut down a dead tree is primarily dependent on your place of residence. Some municipalities and cities have bylaws that require residents to apply for permits before cutting any trees, alive or dead. Other regions don’t have stipulated regulations regarding dead tree removal and when permits are mandatory.

With that in mind, you need an Alberta tree cutting permit to log a dead tree in this province. For instance, if you want to use a dead tree for firewood, you must have a PUFPP.

How Can We Help You?

Cutting down a tree isn’t as easy as it sounds. The project has its fair share of risks, from falling branches and working at incredible heights to wasp stings and electric shock. For your own safety and peace of mind, hire licensed arborists from Pevach Corp.We are specialists in mulching and tree clearing. Our experts can help you remove trees neatly and cleanly without extensively impacting the soil. Contact us today for the best tree services in Alberta and the surrounding areas.