North Island Central Coast Permits

Cutting Free Christmas Trees for Personal Use


How Can I Apply?

To apply on-line, click here.  You may also apply at your local Forest, Lands and Natural Resource District Office. The forest officer may issue a letter of authorization and will provide you with the information and a sketch map of the area(s), if necessary, where you can cut a tree. Carry your letter of authorization with you as you may be asked to produce it. 



Where Do I Cut a Tree?

The Christmas tree may only be cut from areas of Crown land on power line rights-of-way or forest road rights-of-way.

Note: Power line rights-of-way are defined by the cleared area immediately under the power line itself. Road rights-of-way are defined as 3 metres (10 feet) beyond the edge of the ditch or excavated portion of the road bank or fill slope.




Map(s) for any available Christmas tree harvesting areas can be obtained at your local resource district office.



Are There Areas Where I Must Not Cut Christmas Trees?

NO CUTTING of Christmas Trees in the following areas:

  • private property
  • within Provincial Parks
  • forest plantations in harvested areas, or
  • on Tree Farm Licences, Community Forest Agreement or Wood Lots without express written permission from the holder.
  • Note: It is the responsibility of the Permittee to determine land ownership.


    How Many Trees Can I Cut?

    You are allowed to cut the number of trees specified on the permit, at the time you pick it up, up to a maximum of 1 tree per family. Cutting Christmas trees free of charge is strictly for personal use. You are not allowed to sell them. Failure to comply is an unauthorized harvest on Crown land under Section 52(1)(a) of the Forest and Range Practices Act.  Unauthorized cutting may be further subject to prosecution under the Criminal Code of Canada.



    What Species of Tree Should I Cut?

    Usually Douglas-fir on dry sites produces the best Christmas trees. However, lodgepole pine, spruce, balsam and other evergreen trees may be designated for cutting where Douglas-fir is not available.



    What Should I Do Before Cutting a Tree?


    Make sure you have chosen the best tree and the size you want.  Try to leave the bottom one or two branches on the stump of the tree, which may grow into another Christmas tree for future cutting.  Do not cut a big tree only to use the top portion. This may be a waste of a future tree and the portion left on the area will create a fire hazard.



    What Should I Do After Cutting a Tree?

    • Leave the area as clean as possible.

    • Do not leave lower boles and branches of cut trees alongside roads or in the ditches. Lop them close to the ground and scatter.

    • Do not transport your tree outside the province.

    Careful cutting of Christmas tree(s) without unnecessary waste will ensure continuous crops of Christmas trees for future generations.




    Cutting Free Firewood for Personal Use


    Note:  During summer months, fire hazard may restrict firewood cutting.  The permit holder must check with local fire protection services for current restrictions. 


    North Island Fire Centre:  (250) 286-7560, or

    Coastal Fire Centre:         (250) 951-4222, or

    Fire Protection Web site:

    Wildfire Regulation:


    To Report a Wildfire, call:  1-800-663-5555, or *5555 from a cellular phone


    How Can I Apply?


    To apply on-line, click here.  Before accessing this on-line application process, please have the following information ready:

    • your e-mail address

    • the licence plate number of the vehicle that will be transporting the wood

    You may also apply in person at your local forest district office.  Carry your permit and identification with you, as you are required by law to produce both if requested by a Forest Officer or Police Officer. 

    Why Do I Need a Permit?

    The Forest and Range Practices Act prohibits harvest of any timber without proper authorization.  This includes dead and down timber or logging residue.  The Forest Act requires all forest products being transported in any manner to have the necessary documentation. The North Island - Central Coast Forest District “Free Use Permit” is the necessary documentation. Having this permit will assist the Ministry of Forests and Range, and/or other enforcement agencies, in policing wood transportation.

    What Permit Do I Need For Firewood?

    You need a Free Use Permit.  Only permits authorised through the Ministry of Forests are valid.

    How Many Permits Do I Need?

    You need a separate permit for each vehicle involved in the transport and/or harvesting of domestic firewood, including the transport of any firewood originating from private land.  If  there is no vehicle on site during the active harvesting of firewood, there must be a permit on site with the person/s doing the harvesting.

    Do I Also Need Another Permit From the Forest Companies?

    Yes, if you wish to cut on areas under an existing tenure or permit with another person or forest company, such as a Wood Lot, Tree Farm License, or private land held by a forest company.   If you are unsure as to where these types of tenures exist, you should get an agreement from the forest company in question.   The Ministry of Forests and Range has created a map illustrating these tenures with contact numbers.   This map is available for viewing at the Ministry of Forests and Range office in Port McNeill, at other government agencies, and with participating forest companies.

    Where Can I Cut Firewood?

    Firewood can be cut from roadside logging debris in the designated cutting area. 

    With a permit, you may cut on any previously harvested area on vacant crown land where the regeneration has not exceeded 7 meters (23 feet) in height, within the North Island - Central Coast Forest District.  Maps will be available for viewing where permits are attained which will assist in locating Crown land however the onus is on the permittee to ensure that they are not cutting on any unauthorized area.  Forest company representatives and MFR staff may also be of assistance in identifying suitable areas.

    • A five (5) meter buffer must be maintained along all streams, wetlands and lakes.
    • You must have the agreement of the forest company to cut on their tenures or permitted sites.
    • All reserve zones (unharvested areas in or adjacent to openings) must be respected.  The forest company providing you the agreement will identify the locations of any reserves.
    • For any other areas of interest that are not listed below, please contact the North Island - Central Coast Forest District at (250) 956-5000.



    Map(s) for any available firewood areas can be obtained at your local forest district office.


    What Can I Cut?

    In authorized firewood cutting areas, the following applies:

  • In former timber sale licence areas: post harvest waste and residue, piled at roadside may be removed.
  • For other approved areas: Differences exist North and South of Cape Caution. Please note the differences before collection firewood in your area. Failure to comply may lead to enforcement action.
  • Debris piles and/or slash are eligible. You may not cut production wood, such as decked logs in an active setting. If in doubt, do not cut. If there is decked wood, machinery, or a timber mark posted, it is very likely the site is still active and you must avoid cutting. Waste piles are an indicator of an inactive site. It is important to note that the absence of machinery does not indicate wood has been abandoned. Many commercial operations will hold inventory at various stages of harvest in the forest. You may also cut driftwood providing that it is less than 3.6 meters (12 feet) long and is not suitable for lumber, shake, or shingle production. Again, if in doubt, do not cut.

    May I Cut Live Trees With Little or No Commercial Value?

    1)   North of Cape Caution: There is presently no hardwood tenures North of Cape Caution, consequently, live deciduous trees may be felled and utilized as firewood.

    South of Cape Caution: There is currently a hardwood licence South of Cape Caution, making all live deciduous trees a potential future commodity and protected from cutting. Similarly, all live conifers are protected from cutting. You must have a separate and specific authority in addition to your Free Use Permit to cut any live tree that are eligible for removal. To obtain this specific authority, please see the following link that speaks to cutting live trees creating a potential safety issue to a dwelling.

         May I Cut Dead, Standing Trees?

    North of Cape Caution: All dead standing trees (except Western Red Cedar) may be felled and utilized as firewood. In recognition of the value cavity nesting trees provide, only those with a diameter at breast height of 40cm (16 inches) or less are permitted to be felled.

    South of Cape Caution: No standing dead conifers or deciduous may be cut. Dead trees function as snags and , have environmental value as nest or perch trees, as well as being host to numerous other organisms. Snags are only removed under agreements issued by the Crown or tenure holders may remove snags for safety reasons. A Free Use Permit does not provide authority to remove a snag for safety purposes.

    Then What is Left to Cut for Firewood?

    3)    Slash and debris piles are eligible. In addition, further options exist to the North of Cape Caution.

    Do I Need to Timber Mark My Firewood?

    3)    No.  Personal domestic firewood activities have been exempted, within the North Island - Central Coast Forest District, from the Forest Act marking requirements for all timber products under transport.  The Free Use Permit must be with the vehicle.  This satisfies the transportation documentation requirements in the Forest Act and debris piles.  No standing tree, dead or alive, or any species, may be cut for firewood purposes.

    Do I Need to Scale My Firewood?

    5)    No.  There is a requirement under the Forest Act for all timber products harvested in B.C. to be scaled, including firewood and wood from private land, however, personal, domestic, firewood activities have been exempted from this requirement within the North Island - Central Coast Forest District.  Commercial harvesters ( people selling firewood) are not exempted and must have their product scaled. 

    Do I Need a Radio to Travel on Logging Roads?

    It is recommended that all active logging roads be avoided when hauling is taking place, even if you have a radio with all the appropriate frequencies.  Any increase in traffic increases the risk to all the users of the road.  The forest companies can tell you which roads are active, which are not, and what would be the best days and times to use the roads.  

    How Much Wood can I Take?

    North of Cape Caution: A maximum of fifteen (15) cords of wood per household, per year, can be removed from the area.

    South of Cape Caution: A maximum of five (5) cords of wood per household, per year, can be removed from the area.

    Are There Restrictions on Where and How it is Transported?

    The firewood must only be transported to the residence identified on your permit application, and only in the vehicle bearing the licence plate number that you provide in your application. As for firewood lengths;

    North of Cape Caution: The maximum transport length of firewood is two (2) metres (seven feet).

    South of Cape Caution: must be cut to a length not greater than 46 cm (18 inches).

    Can I Sell the Wood?


    Any firewood cut under this permit is for personal use only and cannot be sold.  For information on commercial firewood cutting permits, please contact your local forest district and inquire about the Small Scale Salvage program.


    How Long is the Permit Valid?


    This permit is valid until the supply of roadside logging debris in the permit area has been exhausted, or is otherwise disposed of by the Ministry, or until the end of the calendar year in which the permit was issued, whichever comes first.


    Who Assumes the Risk for Loss or Injury?


    Persons engaging in firewood cutting under this permit will assume all risk of loss or injury and save harmless the Crown from all and any claims.



    Timber Marks For Private Land Application

    Please read the Timber Marks for Private Land Pdf Doc  document for general information about Private Timber Mark applications.


    To apply for a Private Timber Mark, please complete the following application.


    Danger Tree Removal

    For information on the topping, crown thinning or removal of danger trees, please refer to the Guide for the NICCFD.