Landowner Advocacy

Our advocacy process:

1) If there is an issue you are passionate about, set up a meeting to discuss it with your local Chapter President and the OWA Executive Director. The contact information for your local chapter president can be found on your chapter profile page.

2)  Draft a letter in collaboration with your chapter Board addressed to the decision-making body associated with your concern. 

3) Seek input from your local chapter on your drafted letter. The OWA communications coordinator can help to send an email to all chapter members on your behalf.

4) Finalize your Chapter's letter and seek an additional Provincial OWA Letter of Support from the OWA Executive Director.

5) Send both your Chapter's letter and Provincial OWA Letter of Support to the decision-making body associated with your concern.

Please note that the OWA does not get involved in issues that are religious or political in nature. We focus on on concerns pertaining strictly to forest health, land management, and landowner well-being. 

Feel free to email us at or call 613 340 5027 anytime for additional help in your advocacy process.

Explore Advocacy Case Studies that showcase how local chapters have made a difference in their community.

OWA Position Statements 

- Modified December 5, 2017

After the Policy Development Guidelines were approved earlier this year by the OWA Board, the next step was to establish position statements.  Using the guidelines, the Communications Committee has articulated the position of the OWA on a variety of topics. These statements are meant to provide a concise declaration of the OWA position with the understanding that, further detail may be necessary in the future as the need arises.

The position statements were presented to the Board on September 13, 2017.  The Board requested additional time for review with their Chapters.  A set date to have comments in was November 15, 2017.  Comments were received and incorporated.

Originally created by the Communications Committee, the Executive Committee requests the adoption of the OWA Position Statements at the Board meeting on December 13, 2017.

List of OWA Position Statements

  1. Membership

  2. Good Forestry Practices

  3. Education and Awareness

  4. Woodlot Owners’ Rights and Responsibilities

  5. Benefits for Woodlot Owners

  6. Wildlife Habitat

  7. Species at Risk

  8. Invasive Species

  9. Pesticides

  10. Agriculture

  11. Commercial Logging

  12. Land Development

  13. Wood Heat

  14. Reforestation

  15. Woodlot Safety

  16. Hunting and Trapping

  17. Trespass and Liability

  1. Membership

Membership in OWA shall be open to all woodlot owners and persons or organizations supporting the objectives of OWA. In particular, the OWA encourages woodlot owners to join the OWA, learn about sustainable forest management and strengthen our voice.

2. Good Forestry Practices

The OWA advocates for good forestry practices where woodlot activities enable the forest to grow healthy native plants, maintain ecological processes and wildlife habitats as well as forest products. It is the proper implementation of harvest, renewal and maintenance activities known to be appropriate for the forest and environmental conditions under which they are being applied and that minimize detriments to forest values

 - Derived from a series of Ontario tree cutting bylaws. 

There are key components of good forestry practices. Careful planning for all stages of forest management is perhaps the most important component of good forestry practices. Establishing both short and long-term management objectives of the woodlot based on a current forest inventory that assesses biological features such as trees and wildlife habitat as well as physical factors such as site characteristics, land capability and important environmental features is the first and most critical step towards success, and will help identify the degree to which each or all of the following practices should be adopted:

  1. Consider professional advice.

  2. Choose an appropriate silvicultural method.

  3. Retain a diversity of tree species, ages, sizes and stands.

  4. Limit activities to the appropriate season.

  5. Use directional felling.

  6. Avoid stream crossings.

  7. Avoid harvesting on steep slopes.

  8. Retain forest edge density.

  9. Protect wildlife habitat.

  10. Use appropriate harvesting equipment.

 -  Derived from A silvicultural guide to managing southern Ontario forests (OMNR 2000).

3. Education and Awareness

The OWA promotes education and awareness of sustainable forest management practices in all aspects of forestry (e.g. wildlife habitat, pesticides, safety, etc.)

The OWA is well positioned to provide education and training for woodlot owners.

The OWA also advocates for all Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program participants to be members of a forest education organization so they can receive relevant and current information on the sustainable management of their woodlots.  

4. Woodlot Owners’ Rights and Responsibilities 

The OWA supports all woodlot owners’ rights as defined in law.  The OWA understands that some restrictions on land use are necessary to balance societal and environmental values.  The OWA feels any constraints on land use or requirements for permitting should be properly justified and reasonably implemented.

The OWA advocates for sustainable forest management as an ethical responsibility of the woodlot owner now and for future generations.

5. Benefits for Woodlot Owners

The OWA advocates for incentives and benefits for owners of sustainably managed woodlots because they provide many ecological services, forest products and other important societal benefits.  

The OWA supports initiatives, such as the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program, that encourage woodlot owners to carry out sustainable forest management. The OWA will continue to advocate that the minimum woodlot size for the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program be reduced to a size that accommodates more southern Ontario woodlots. This is in part, to support the continued increase in forest cover in Ontario.

Also, the OWA supports programs that assist woodlot owners with such things as training (e.g. invasive species control, chainsaw safety and pesticide handling, etc.) and with the costs of carrying out sustainable forest management.

6. Wildlife Habitat

The OWA recognizes wildlife habitat to be an important part of a healthy forest, and strives to provide its members with up-to-date information on this topic.

The OWA recognizes that each type of forest ecosystem has specific wildlife associated with it. Some of the main characteristics of a woodlot that determine wildlife habitat are tree species, composition, age of the trees, size of the woodlands, number of snags and downed woody debris, soil type, climate and topography. Many wildlife species will take advantage of several habitat types through the course of a day, season or year.

It is important to know the habitat needs of several key species, including rare, threatened and endangered species. Since timber harvesting alters forest cover and habitat availability, the habitat of these species should be recognized and maintained through the woodlot’s planning process. 

 - Derived from A Citizen’s Guide to Forest Mgt Planning in Ontario (Ontario Nature 1996).

7. Species at Risk

The OWA supports the objective Endangered Species Act, but has difficulty with its approach and requirements.  Nonetheless, OWA recognizes the importance of biodiversity and the connectedness of all components of an eco-system.

The OWA, accordingly, supports a stewardship-first approach to species at risk management, where woodlot owners can contribute to the protection and recovery of species at risk, in the context of sustainable forest management (see position 2), without the fear of legal ramifications.  Woodlot owners have the potential to provide valuable information and on-the-ground protection and enhancement of species at risk and their habitats.

The OWA advocates that woodlot owners should not have to bear alone the costs or sacrifices that may be required to protect species at risk on their property.  If society deems that species worthy of protection, the OWA advocates that society should share the cost of providing that protection.

The OWA supports the development of best management practices for species at risk, in the context of coarse filter; fine filter; that could be used by woodlot owners when creating managed forest plans.

Sustainable forest management practices create and maintain healthy ecosystems, and thus benefiting species at risk.

8. Invasive Species

The OWA supports any initiative that assists landowners in their efforts to combat invasive species.

The OWA recognizes that introduced invasive plants, pathogens and animals have the potential to establish themselves and disrupting established ecosystems and forcing out native organisms. This can have a ripple effect that threatens forest ecosystems as well as impacting woodlot economics and social benefits.

 - Derived from A Reference Guide to Invasive Plants (OIPC 2016).

9. Pesticides

The OWA advocates that woodlot owners should have the same status as farmers in regard to use of pesticides. Once trained and certified, woodlot owners should be able to have access to pesticides.  Pesticides are critical tools for woodlot owners in the protection of species at risk and the control of invasive species.

10. Agriculture

The OWA supports agriculture and recognizes the vital services and products it provides to Ontario, Canada and the world.  As recognized in Position 2 with respect to “Good Forestry Practice”, OMAFRA has useful guides for farmers on sustainable forest management. Accordingly, we embrace farmers as natural partners in forest conservation.  Woodlots can be important contributors to farm operations creating both economic and environmental benefits. The practice of integrating trees with agricultural crops and/or livestock is known as agroforestry and the challenge lies in knowing the best ways of establishing and maintaining tree cover to maximize benefits for a farm’s operation. The OWA recognizes the right of the farmers to managed their lands under best management practices, but also supports the importance of retaining as much forest cover as possible on the landscape. An Environment Canada publication suggests that 30% is a minimum to have some assurance of a healthy bio-diverse landscape.

The OWA recognizes that many of its members are farmers.

11. Commercial Logging

The OWA advocates that commercial logging operations should be guided by a managed forest plan using good forest practices.

OWA recommends:

  • a prescription be prepared, 

  • the hiring of a certified tree marker working on behalf of the woodlot owner,

  • that forest products be sold through a tender process to reputable loggers and sawmills, 

  • a contract be prepared between logger and the woodlot owner, and

  • the monitoring of harvesting activities.

12. Land Development

The OWA advocates for land development strategies that include recognition and support for the work of woodlot owners and that maximizes the retention of woodlands and wetlands on the landscape by effectively implementing natural heritage systems.

The OWA, with its vision of “healthy, productive woodlots”, recognizes the wide spectrum of services provided to society by intact, sustainably managed woodlands.  In addition to the products that are obtained from our woodlots, we also are dependent on them for our clean air and water, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, wildlife habitat and many other environmental services. However, land development is driven by the needs and priorities of society.  In Ontario, there is a need for land for housing, industry, commerce, agriculture and many other uses.

The OWA advocates for land development strategies that include recognition and support for the work of woodlot owners and that maximizes the retention of woodlands and wetlands on the landscape by effectively implementing natural heritage systems.

13. Wood Heat

The OWA views wood heat as green, renewable energy when it is used locally, harvested sustainably, dried properly and burned correctly.  In addition, the OWA advocates that the removal of firewood from a woodlot can reduce the spread of disease, improve the forest genetics, maximize carbon sequestration, increase biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of past practices (e.g. pasturing, over-harvesting, etc.).

14. Reforestation

The OWA supports initiatives that focus on the establishment of trees and shrubs that reflects the native species and natural ecosystems that would be expected based on the ecological land classification. The OWA recognizes the need to have a productive and effective seed collection system, nursery industry, tree planting contractors and willing landowners. 

The OWA will advocate for the continued support of ecologically designed reforestation programs, such as Forest Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Planting Program, and their necessary support services (e.g., site preparation, tending and thinning).

15. Woodlot Safety

The OWA promotes woodlot safety and advocates safety training and education for anyone actively using their woodlot. This would include the safe use of chain saw or other equipment, as well as staying safe from ticks, wildlife, poisonous plants and other hazards.

16. Hunting and Trapping

The OWA recognizes that hunting and trapping are legal, regulated activities.  Hunting and trapping can benefit a woodlot (e.g. the suppression of natural regeneration due to high density deer populations, flooding of forest land generated from beaver dams, nuisance animals who predate on bird populations, etc.).

17. Trespass and Liability

The OWA works with woodlot owners to help them know their rights and responsibilities when it comes to trespassers and liabilities.

The majority of Ontarians who wander – knowingly or not – onto private property do not intend to cause harm. But they may unintentionally cause problems with plants, land, water or animals on a property which can have significant repercussions on a farm or forestry business.

The OWA works with woodlot owners to help them know their rights and responsibilities when it comes to trespassers and liabilities. Although signs around a property’s perimeter are the most common way for woodlot owners to signal to the public where public spaces end and private property begins, a sign is not always required to signal others to keep out. Many Ontarians don’t realize that the Trespass to Property Act also lists several spaces that are prohibited to the public, even if no signs are in sight. Those spaces include gardens, fields, and other land under cultivation, enclosed or fenced land, areas with young trees and woodlots.

The OWA also advocates on behalf of woodlot owners by requesting governments put more resources into public awareness around issues of woodlot trespassing and dumping, and to increase fines for those who are found at fault. 

 - Derived fromKnow your rights when unexpected visitors show up on the farm (OFA’s website 2012).

Ontario Woodlot Association

10 Campus Dr., Unit 4

Kemptville, Ontario

K0G 1J0

Phone: 613-713-1525

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