By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
That’s what’s behind a pair of protests that saw the Raging Grannies group picket two rural properties in East Kent Sunday where recent tree cutting has occurred.
“It’s so alarming,” said member Rageen Granny. “It doesn’t take much to take down a woodlot.
“We’re just trying to make a point,” she said, adding members were “bearing witness” to the degradation of the forest.
Group members, who never identify themselves publicly, have been active over the past year, taking a stand to protect Chatham-Kent’s dwindling forest cover.
Spokeswoman Rageen said 10 people braved the cold on Botany Line and Zone Road 2 near Thamesville Sunday to quietly protest the clearing of trees.
She said she hoped the municipality will take action and also criticized the fact there’s no preventative legislation in place.
“What’s the sense in having a bylaw if you don’t enforce it?” Rageen asked, adding landowners should need permission before clearing trees on their land.
Unlike neighbouring municipalities, Chatham-Kent does not have a permit process in place governing tree cutting and clear cutting.
However, there is the temporary bylaw passed by Chatham-Kent council last year prohibiting landowners from clearing trees in woodlot areas more than 0.2 hectares (half an acre) in size. Originally passed in April 2021, council has extended it twice. It remains in effect until April 30.
The bylaw states anyone found guilty of contravening the bylaw could be fined up to $100,000.
The municipality announced Monday it is investigating complaints that woodlots in East Kent are being cleared of trees, possibly in violation of Chatham-Kent’s temporary bylaw.
In a Jan. 24 media release, Paul Lacina, director of building development services (BDS) and bylaw enforcement stated officers are looking into the issue.
“BDS can confirm that these latest allegations of clear cutting at the end of last week have been reported to the municipality and bylaw enforcement staff are investigating these matters further,” Lacina said.
No further comment will be provided, he added, as it is an ongoing investigation.
Several tree-cutting incidents have been reported to the municipality since the bylaw was enacted, but no charges have been laid to date.
To report an incident or for further inquires on the temporary clear cutting bylaw contact building development services at 519-360-1998 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Landowners who plan to selectively harvest trees are urged to contact the municipality prior to undertaking the work.