Tree Protection

North Cowichan does not have a tree protection bylaw, however there are important considerations prior to taking down any trees, shrubs or bushes:

Development Permit Area

If the property falls under Development Permit Area 3 - Natural Environment (DPA-3) or Development Permit Area 4 - Hazard Lands, there are restrictions in place for cutting down trees. 

If you're not sure if the property is located within a DPA-3 or DPA-4 area, you will need to confirm with the planning department ( or go to North Cowichan's online mapping system to confirm if a development permit area is on the property.

To view DPA-3 and DPA-4 areas on the Municipal interactive webmap, follow the below steps:

  1. Click this link
  2. Click the "Layers" button in the top left hand corner of your screen
  3. Scroll down and check the box next to "Land Use and Planning"
  4. Click the arrow next to "Land Use and Planning" to reveal more layers
  5. Check the box next to "Managing Growth"
  6. Click the arrow next to "Managing Growth" to reveal more layers
  7. Check the box next to "Development Permit Areas"
  8. Check the box next to "DPA-3 Natural Environment guidelines B"
  9. Check the box next to "DPA-4 Natural Hazards Areas guidelines C"
  10. All layers beneath "DPA-3 Natural Environment guidelines B" and "DPA-4 Natural Hazards Areas guidelines C" can be checked on or off depending on what features you'd like to see

Wildlife Act & Migratory Bird Convention Act

Even if the property is not in DPA-3 Natural Environment Area or DPA-4 Natural Hazards Area, provincial (Wildlife Act) and federal (Migratory Bird Convention Act) laws protect bird nesting habitats, which include trees, shrubs, and bushes.

Under section 30 of the BC Wildlife Act, it is illegal to harm or destroy a bird or its egg, or the nest of specified birds or any nest occupied by a bird or its egg.

If a property owner wishes to modify a tree with a nest, they must obtain a written permit from the Ministry of Environment's Permit & Authorization Service Bureau and check with Environment Canada for a federal permit under the Migratory Birds Convention Act regulations.

Qualified Environmental Professional

To demonstrate the absence of bird nesting in a tree you wish to cut down, it is advised that a qualified environmental professional is hired to survey the tree(s). This is especially important during the bird nesting season, which runs from late March to mid-August in our area, with some species nesting outside this period. In addition to that, there are some birds that are serial nesters, and will return to the same tree each year.

Bylaw Complaints - Conservation Officer

When North Cowichan receives a bylaw complaint that trees are getting cut down, we first confirm it is not located in a DPA-3 area. If it is not, then they are to report the incident to the Conservation Officer service via or by phoning 1-877-952-7277.