March 6, 2023
Land clearing has come a long way from its slash-and-burn beginnings (a.k.a. brushpiles). Today, it’s a sophisticated process that requires strategic planning, eco-friendly methods, and often, a bit of innovation.
For property owners, land clearing offers a wealth of potential benefits. With modern methods, it’s more efficient and environmentally conscious than ever before.
This post will explore various land clearing methods and their benefits, discuss essential regulations you should know, and provide you with some inspiration to make the most of your cleared land.
Traditional vs. Modern Land Clearing Methods
Whether you have recently acquired new property or wish to repurpose land you already own, land clearing is likely to be the first step in your process. Traditional methods such as the slash and burn technique, and bulldozing, have been popular in the past. Although you can push all the slash together, it still creates an unuseable chunk of land.
Modern land clearing methods like forestry mulching have risen to prominence due to their efficiency and environmental benefits.
Understanding Land Clearing Methods
Each land clearing method comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the specifics of your project, certain methods may prove more effective and economical than others.
Slash and Burn (a.k.a. Brushpiles)
The most traditional method, slash and burn, involves cutting down trees and vegetation (slash), then burning the remnants. This method has been used for centuries due to its simplicity and low equipment costs.
- Pros: Simple, low equipment costs
- Cons: Can cause environmental damage, risk of uncontrolled fires, and potential soil degradation
This method involves using heavy machinery to push over trees and clear the land. The debris is then usually collected and burned or transported off-site.
- Pros: Quick and effective for large areas
- Cons: Can cause soil compaction and erosion, requires debris management, not suitable for rocky terrain
A more modern approach, forestry mulching involves using specialized equipment to grind and shred vegetation on-site. The resulting mulch is left on the ground, contributing to soil health.
- Pros: Quick, no debris removal required, immediately usable land
- Cons: Requires specialized equipment, not suitable for very large trees
|Slash and Burn
|Simple, Low equipment costs
|Environmentally damaging, Risk of uncontrolled fires, Soil degradation
|Quick, Effective for large areas
|Can cause soil compaction, Debris management required, Not suitable for rocky terrain
|Medium to High
|Quick, No debris removal required, Immediately usable land
|Requires specialized equipment, Not suitable for very large trees
|Medium to High
Enter Mechanical Land Clearing: Quick and Efficient
Today, mechanical land clearing methods, such as bulldozing and grubbing, are more prevalent. These methods are efficient but come with their own challenges. For instance, large equipment can disrupt the field operations for years, and it can lead to years of lost crop production. Therefore, more and more landowners are looking towards other alternatives.
The Mulching Revolution: Turning Problems into Solutions
Forestry mulching, a technique that transforms trees into nutrient-rich mulch, is gaining popularity among modern farmers. A local Alberta farmer, after switching from slash and burn to forestry mulching, saw a considerable increase in soil fertility and immediate usability of the land for crops. Companies like FAE offer powerful crushers and grinders that turn any bush into a prepared seedbed, eliminating the need for pile and burn.
The downside to that? It’s costly to purchase the equipment to help yourself and neighbours for a problem that can be really a short-term, one-call-solution. Time to consider giving us a shout, since we have the people and tools already.
Unlocking Land Potential: The Airbnb & VRBO Trend
Clearing land isn’t just for agriculture or construction anymore. With the rise of vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, even small landowners can leverage their property to generate income.
Airbnb in recent years has talked about the explosion in unique stays. People don’t want just the good old fashioned house rental or hotel room anymore, things like farm stays, yurts, treehouses and off-grid stays have really dominated in the hospitality industry & have even forced
In 2021, some of the top searched unique stays on Airbnb included:
- Yurts (1,701%)
- Islands (1,668%)
- Huts (1,379%)
- Earth houses (1,285%)
- Barns (1,068%)
- Farm stays (1,055%)
- Houseboats (1,015%)
- Tiny homes (791%)
It’s possible to clear a section of land and even drop a tiny home onto a parcel that’s no where near your house on your rural property or farm. It’s possible from land clearing to airbnb rentable in as little as a few weeks, without needing to even worry about utilities. More on that in this article we wrote about starting your own Airbnb or VRBO.
Land Clearing Regulations
Before you start land clearing, it’s essential to understand the local municipal regulations. These can vary widely between regions, so we have provided general guidelines for Alberta and Saskatchewan below. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, visit the official government websites Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Permit requirements, protected species considerations, buffer zones, and fire regulations all come into play. Here’s a general list of things to consider:
- Permit requirements
- Protected species
- Buffer zones
- Fire regulations
Look up your local bylaws and consult with your local authorities for specifics. Always be sure you’re in the know before beginning any land clearing projects. We’ve compiled a few from our servicing region below:
General Land Clearing Regulations in Alberta and Saskatchewan
|Permits may be required for removing trees, changing waterways, or disturbing habitats. Check local municipal regulations.
|Protects species at risk. See the Alberta Wildlife Act.
|Setbacks may apply to protect water bodies.
|Burn permits may be required.
|Permits may be needed for altering land, especially near water bodies. Check local municipal regulations.
|Protects endangered species under the Wildlife Act.
|Buffer zones may be required around water bodies.
|Open fires may be restricted during certain periods of the year.
How to Start a Land Clearing Project
Planning is key to a successful land clearing project. Here are some steps to help guide your process:
- Understand Your Land: Each plot is unique, with its own terrain, soil type, and potential obstacles. For instance, rocky terrain might be unsuitable for certain methods like bulldozing.
- Identify Your Goals: What is the end goal for your cleared land? Your objective can influence which method you choose.
- Check Regulations: Make sure to comply with local and regional laws related to land clearing. Obtain necessary permits before starting.
- Choose Your Method: Consider the specifics of your land and your objectives to select the most suitable land clearing method.
- Hire Professionals: Unless you’re experienced and have the necessary equipment, hiring professionals might be your best bet. They can ensure the job is done safely and efficiently.
Land clearing can unlock a multitude of opportunities for landowners. From agriculture to construction, or even to leverage tourism trends, the potential uses of your cleared land are only limited by your imagination.
Potential Uses for Cleared Land
- Agriculture: Cultivation of crops or livestock rearing.
- Construction: Building homes, commercial properties, or even a farmstead.
- Tourism: Creating unique rental properties or recreational areas.
- Landscaping: Create gardens, walking trails, or even a personal park or campground.
Are you considering land clearing and aren’t sure where to start? Contact the professionals at Pevach Corp for a consultation. Let us guide you through the journey, helping you discover the full potential of your property. We specialize in modern, efficient, and environmentally-friendly land clearing techniques to help you get the most out of your land.