Rewarding landowner stewardship through the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program
While it wasn't always the case, the protection of natural spaces has become a critical component of the planning edifice in Ontario. Through the Provincial Policy Statement, municipalities in southern Ontario are required to designate "natural heritage systems" which link discrete features (like woodlands or wetlands) to protect them and their constituent biodiversity for the long-term. In recognizing the immense value of maintaining (and restoring) our natural heritage, we sometimes forget to highlight (or even acknowledge) the reasons why these natural features have remained on the landscape. Many lands that were too wet, sloped, or rocky to cultivate were retained out of circumstance rather than careful planning or consideration for wild species. In other cases, the continuance of a natural feature is directly attributable to purposeful actions and vigilance by environmentally-minded landowners and land managers through time.
The Province of Ontario rewards landowners for their natural resource stewardship through the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program (MFTIP) and Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP). These programs reflect the fact that all Ontarians benefit from healthy woodlands and natural spaces and receive vital ecosystem goods and services (e.g., wildlife habitat, water treatment, carbon sequestration, etc.) essentially for free, even when these features are situated on private land. The enrollment process is very simple, does not restrict land use, and offers a great opportunity to learn more about the ecology of your property.
If you own at least 10 acres (9.88 acres to be exact) of woodland and meet a couple other criteria (i.e., are a Canadian citizen/permanent resident, etc.), enrolling your woodland into MFTIP can reduce your property tax burden by 75%. This reduction pertains to eligible portions of your property (i.e., woodland) that are enrolled in the program (rather than the entire property itself). Certain open areas and wetlands that cannot support trees can also be enrolled in MFTIP. Through enrollment a Managed Forest Plan approver (like Terrastory) will prepare (or assist you with preparing) a Managed Forest Plan that outlines how your forest will be managed over time. Some acceptable management activities include cutting firewood, maintaining trails, and learning about forest ecology by attending workshops and seminars. While many landowners who enroll in MFTIP choose to selectively harvest their forest, there is no obligation to do so. Managed Forest Plans must be submitted by June 30 to qualify for a municipal tax reduction the following year.
Other significant natural features – such as Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSW), Significant Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI), and habitats of (some) Endangered and Threatened Species – can be enrolled in the Conservation Land Tax Incentive Program (CLTIP). Such significant features and areas need only be 0.5 acres to be enrolled in CLTIP, and are eligible for a 100% property tax reduction.
If you are interested in enrolling your property into MFTIP or CLTIP contact Terrastory today – we’d be happy to provide you with further information or assist you through this process.