Overview

You may want to use wood from Crown land for personal uses, such as:

  • campfires and home heating
  • small building projects and landscaping
  • hobbies, arts and crafts
  • a Christmas tree

Using wood for non-commercial purposes from Crown land is known as personal use harvesting. As of April 19, 2022 there are new rules for personal use harvesting.

You might need a licence for personal use harvesting depending on the type and amount of harvesting you want to do.

When you don’t need a licence to harvest for personal use

Each year your household can use some wood from Crown land for your personal use without a licence. You do not require a licence for:

  • collecting a maximum of 10 cubic metres or three full cords of downed wood (dead wood that is on the ground)
  • cutting one Christmas tree that is a maximum of 2.5 metres high (north of the French and Mattawa rivers only)
  • transplanting up to five trees that are a maximum of 1.4 metres high
  • cutting branches from standing trees, if the branches are a maximum of 7.5 centimetres in diameter and where the removal of the branches will not kill the tree
  • collecting wood for a campfire (downed wood or cut standing dead trees) while lawfully camping or recreating on Crown land, for immediate use

Even though you don’t need a licence for these activities, you must still follow the requirements listed in:

You are exempt from these requirements if you are harvesting for personal use according to Aboriginal or treaty rights.

When you need a licence to harvest for personal use

If you are doing any personal use harvesting that is not listed in the previous section, you need to get a licence and pay for each cubic metre of wood that you harvest.
How much you pay will depend on the:

  • type and species of wood
  • location where you are harvesting

To get a licence, contact your local Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry office.

On October 1, 2022 you will be able to get an authorization online for personal use harvesting.

Requirements when harvesting for personal use without a licence

While harvesting wood without a licence on Crown land, you must:

  • be at least 16 years of age, or under the direct and immediate supervision of a person who is at least 16 years of age
  • only harvest on Crown land (find Crown land using the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas)
  • be lawfully camping to harvest for personal use while camping
  • not sell, trade or barter harvested wood, trees, branches or products made from them
  • not transport personal use wood outside of Ontario
  • not damage living trees or parts of living trees other than the trees or branches being harvested for the purposes listed in the previous section “When you don’t need a licence”
  • not use heavy equipment, such as tractors or skidders
  • not harvest in water, such as lakes, streams, rivers or ponds
  • not harvest in active forest operations where forestry staff or equipment are present, or where posted signs say that forest operations are scheduled
  • not gather downed wood that has been stacked by forest industry operators
  • not build new trails or roads, or extend or enhance existing trails or roads
  • not leave material on road surfaces, in road rights-of-way or ditches

You are exempt from these requirements if you are harvesting for personal use according to Aboriginal or treaty rights.

Contact your local Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry office if you have questions.

Where you can harvest for personal use without a licence

You may only harvest wood without a licence on Crown land that is within the Northern Boreal or Managed Forest Zone, with limited exceptions.

You can harvest in the Southern Ontario/Great Lakes administrative zone if you are:

  • collecting campfire wood while lawfully camping on Crown land (find Crown land using the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas)
  • harvesting for personal use according to Aboriginal or treaty rights

You cannot harvest:

  • in provincial parks and conservation reserves
  • on private, First Nations reserves and federal land
  • on Crown land occupied by others (for example, a land use permit or lease)

If you are not sure where you can harvest contact your local Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry office.

Forest resources administrative zones

 

Image
Map of Ontario including major water bodies as reference with the northern boreal in grey, managed forest zone in green and the rest of southern Ontario and the Great Lakes in blue.

 


This image shows the province of Ontario and the boundaries of the three forest resources administrative zones:

  • Northern Boreal, which is the area in the far north of Ontario, north of the Managed Forest Zone. This area is mostly Crown land, low productivity forests and tundra
  • Managed Forest Zone, which is an area in the middle of the province where forest management occurs on public land. It has a large quantity of productive forest that is suitable for timber production. It spans from Kemptville in the south east to Pikangikum in the north west and includes parts of the Boreal Forest and the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence forest. The Managed Forest Zone consists of designated management units.
  • Southern Ontario/Great Lakes, which is all area south of the Managed Forest Zone, including southern Ontario and the islands and water of the Great Lakes. It is mostly private land with little public forest.