Selling firewood

Source locally, process locally, sell locally

Properly managed woodlots are a perfect example of sustainable forestry, whether they are large stands of privately owned forest or a couple of acres of wooded land on the farm. Careful work by generations of farmers and other woodlot owners provides the stewardship model that others can follow. It’s visible in healthy, productive woodlots that have provided generations of owners with their heating fuel and timber products.

  • Selling firewood: How to get rich or die trying by Brad Gurr, The Manitoba Woodlot, September/October 2013, pp 9

It used to be said that a ten-acre woodlot in Canada, well managed, could yield enough firewood to heat an average house for a whole year. That’s back when it took four or five cords to heat a small house, but today, with energy efficient construction and advanced wood-stove and wood-furnace technology, that same ten acres can heat your house and the homes of two or three of your neighbours. And it can do so year after year. That’s sustainable energy production.

The demand for good firewood has been increasing for several years, and shows no sign of slowing down, but selling firewood from your own woodlot, family forest, or buying it from other sources to resell has rules and regulations you need to know. You also should be aware of provincial rules preventing the spread of invasive forest pests.

Permits and Licenses:

All licence and permit requirements and fees are outlined under The Forest Act and Forest Use and Management Regulation.

To cut wood on Crown land, Manitoba Conservation requires timber permits for both commercial and personal harvests of less than 300 cubic metres, typically for cutting firewood, fence posts, or for small lumber/sawmill operations. These permits are issued for a maximum of one-year, and the cost is determined by the volume being cut.

If you want to buy lumber harvested from private land or Crown land, you must have a Timber Dealers Licence, although there are some exceptions. A Timber Dealers Licence is required when you purchase firewood for re-sale. The annual fee for Timber Dealers Licence is $30 and Licence holders are required to prepare and maintain monthly records and submit those records. See Section 57 of the Forest Use and Management Regulation.

Wood Processing Facility licences are required for facilities that process timber into a primary or secondary product for sale, such as a sawmill, pulp or paper facility. A small operator sawing or splitting logs into fuelwood likely will never need a Wood Processing Facility licences.  However, a larger commercial operation may. Speak with your Regional Forester to see if you are required to hold a Wood Processing Facility licence.

People can get a Personal Use Timber Permit to cut trees on Crown land in Manitoba, but it is illegal for them to sell the lumber or firewood from those trees.

Invasive forest pests

In general, to reduce the spread of invasive forest pests, it’s important to source your wood locally. Recent introductions of invasive diseases and pests are threatening forests in Manitoba and other parts of North America.  Human transportation of firewood and wood product is a major pathway for the spread of invasive forest pest with many jurisdictions in Canada and the USA.

In Manitoba, there are provincial restrictions on the movement of elm, pine and ash. Transport and storing of elm wood is not allowed because it could spread Dutch elm disease. Elm wood can be moved if the wood has been debarked or has been chipped into pieces not more than 2 inches in any dimension. Transport of pinewood into Manitoba originating from mountain pine beetle infested areas in parts of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia is not permitted.

Ash originating from areas within Canada infested with the emerald ash borer is not allowed into the province. Manitoba has extensive ash in urban, rural and natural areas, and introduction of this pest into Manitoba will have severe consequences for the province.

To minimize the accidental introduction of invasive forest pests, the province has installed wood collecting bins along highways at major entry points into the province. Tourists and others can use these bins for dropping off any firewood that was obtained from areas outside of Manitoba.

Firewood from British Columbia and Alberta is offered for sale in gas stations and stores across Manitoba. The label on this material should indicate that is has been heat treated to kill any bugs that may have been living inside these logs.

In Manitoba there are two pieces of legislation that help protect our forests from invasive pest: the Plant Protection Act enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection agency and the Forest Health Protection Act enforced by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship.

You could face stiff penalties for moving wood from restricted areas. Under the Plant Protection Act, you could be hit with an Administrative Monetary Penalty of up to $15,000, or you could be fined $250,000 or face a prison term of up to two years. In Manitoba, under the Forest Health protection Act, a person could be fined up to $50,000, and a corporation fined up to $200,000.

Both of these Acts help protect our forest from invasive species by allowing for material that is suspected to contain an invasive species to be quarantined and destroyed if necessary. It’s simply “wood-wise” to protect the forests from which we harvest our firewood supply and from which we garner income.

Firewood vendors who want to list their business on WAM’s Firewood Finder can fill out the Firewood Vendors form. The service is free to WAM members.