Is there a forestry management plan that provides tax incentives?
In Ontario, that’s MFTIP, the awkward-sounding acronym that stands for Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program and is the ticket to big property-tax savings if you own more than four hectares of forest. This is how it works: You create a plan, with maps, that shows how you will use and protect your forest, pay to have the plan approved by a licensed “managed forest plan approver,” who then files your plan with your municipality, and presto! your property taxes (on the forested area only) drop by 75 per cent. The MFTIP has all the information, downloadable forms, and listings of managed forest plan approvers by region.
Developing a forest-management plan sounds dauntingly technical but when you read the MFTIP booklet, you’ll see that it isn’t. Basically, you answer a series of questions about how you use your woodland area—you watch birds, you take the kids on nature hikes, you harvest some trees. If you’d rather not do the plan yourself, the approver can do it all, including ordering the necessary maps (for a larger fee, of course).
The approver will also visit your property and tramp around the woods, doing the technical stuff, such as assessing the number of forest stands, the tree species mix, the overall health of the forest, and whether it can sustain any cutting (if that is something you are contemplating).
Tax savings may be your motivation, but once you start studying your forest, you’ll discover new appreciation for it. New hobbies can be found and some cottagers who would never even think of cutting down a tree find out that their forest would actually benefit from a selective harvest. So that becomes part of the plan and, ka-ching, suddenly they have a cash crop.