Woodlots & Woodlot Licences

The term woodlot typically refers to a plot of privately owned forest land. In British Columbia, there are an estimated 20,000+ woodlot owners in the province which have forest holdings greater than 20 hectares.

A woodlot licence is a form of area-based tenure awarded by the Province of BC. A licence is issued over a specified parcel of crown or publicly owned forest land. The maximum amount of crown land in a woodlot licence is 1200 hectares in the interior and 800 hectares on the coast. In addition, a woodlot licence may include some private land. This type of tenure is unique to British Columbia. It is a partnerships between the licence holder and the Province of British Columbia to manage public and private forest lands.

For more information on BC’s Woodlot Licences, refer to BC’s Woodlot Licence Program Report.

Purpose of BC’s Woodlot Licence Program

The Woodlot Licence Program was established to increase opportunities for small-scale forestry in British Columbia and is designed to:

  • increase the amount of private forest land being managed on a sustained yield basis;
  • increase the productivity of small parcels of forested land;
  • promote local employment opportunities; and
  • promote excellence in forest management.

Support for the concept of small-scale, locally based forestry rests on several perceived benefits over large-scale operations,
including expectations that there will be:

  • increased economic opportunities in BC’s forests;
  • better management of the forest;
  • a greater investment in silviculture;
  • more attention paid to environmental and other non-timber values; and
  • more benefits flowing to local communities


Peter and Woodlot No 1The very first woodlot licences in British Columbia, commonly called “farm woodlots”, were introduced in 1948 to allow farmers and ranchers access to Crown timber as a means to supplement their income. The present woodlot licence system was introduced in 1979. Woodlot licence holders are given the right to harvest timber. In return, they take on the responsibility of sustainably managing the forest for all of its values on behalf of British Columbians. Woodlot forestry is an alternative approach to administering and managing some of our Crown forest lands and has slowly grown since 1979 to 850 Woodlot Licences today.

A diverse group of individuals and organizations with a wide range of backgrounds has been attracted to the woodlot licence program. It includes ranchers and farmers, forestry workers such as loggers and registered professional foresters (RPFs), but also scientists, engineers, First Nations, educational institutions and many others with an interest in managing forest land.

They provide stewardship of BC’s forests, and demonstrate innovation and excellence in forest management.

Fast Facts

  • Woodlot licences are small, area based forest tenures unique to BC. In effect it is a social license between the licence holder and the Province of BC to manage public and private forest lands.
  • A woodlot licence is a replaceable tenure that is awarded for 20 years. Replaceable means the tenure will be renewed or extended, providing the terms and conditions of the agreement are being met. As such, woodlot licences are often passed on to generations within a family.
  • Woodlots often marry private lands with crown lands, creating a unique forest tenure.
  • The maximum crown land portion for older woodlot licences is 600 (interior) or 400 (coast) hectares. Recent changes in forestry legislation increased the maximum allowable crown land portion to 1,200 (interior) and 800 (coast) hectares.
  • In BC, there are roughly 600,000 hectares included in woodlots, of which ~57,858 hectares or ~10% is private lands.
  • There are approximately 850 active woodlots in British Columbia with an annual allowable cut (AAC) of ~1.423 million cubic meters annually; or ~1.4% of the provincial cut.
  • Woodlot holders assume responsibility for managing the woodlot area, taking a long-term approach to the sustainable management of all resource values.
  • Woodlots are a form of small business, each one creating employment in local communities, including jobs in planning, harvesting, road construction & maintenance, reforestation, silviculture and small-scale timber processing.
  • Since woodlots offer ‘personal’ management on a small-scale, many have purposely been located in the wildland urban interface (WUI) close to communities or over areas with sensitive resource management issues.