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Butternut and the Endangered Species Act

Butternut and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 2007*
 
The following is ONLY a summary of information gathered from the Forest Gene Conservation Association. For exact wording of the regulations as they pertain to butternut please contact the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources or consult the following websites. 
The butternut was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, 2007 with the primary threat to this species being a fundal disease called Butternut Canker. Butternut trees that are growing vigorously even though they may be infected with the canker are essential to recovery effort. It is for this reason that Naturally-occurring non-retainable butternut trees can ONLY be removed after the tree has been identified as such by a designated Butternut Health Assessor (BHA).
 
Important Definitions:
Non-Retainable tree – a butternut tree that is dead or its health is so severely affected by butternut canker that the tree is not of value to the recovery effort and therefore may be removed.
Retainable tree – a butternut tree whose health has not been severely affected by butternut canker. This tree is of value to the recovery effort.
 
The following is a list of frequently asked questions pertaining to butternuts and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 2007.

 

WHAT IS PROTECTED?
  • Planted butternut trees ARE NOT PROTECTED unless they are planted as a condition under an ESA permit.
  • Hybrid trees ARE NOT PROTECTED under the act. Any butternut like tree that is proposed for removal should be assessed by an expert to ensure you are not removing a pure butternut.
  • Naturally-occurring butternut trees of any size and age ARE PROTECTED under the ESA. If you wish to remove a naturally-occurring butternut tree, it must first be assessed by a qualified Butternut Health Assessor to determine if it is retainable or non-retainable.
 
CAN I REMOVE THE BUTTERNUT TREE ON MY PROPERTY?
  • Naturally-occurring butternut trees that have been assessed as “non-retainable” may be removed. 
  • If you have a naturally occurring butternut that has been assessed as “retainable” you will have to apply for a permit under the ESA to determine if it can be removed and under what conditions..
  • Contact your local OMNR Species at Risk (SAR) Biologist who can supply you with a list of local, qualified BHAs. The Raisin Region Conservation Authority has a number of certified Butternut Health Assessors on staff. For more information contact the RRCA at 613-938-3611 or info@rrca.on.ca
 
WHAT IF I HAVE A “RETAINABLE TREE”?
  • If you have a naturally-occurring “retainable” butternut tree as confirmed by a BHA, and you wish to remove the tree or engage in an activity that may result in harm to it, you must first apply for and obtain a permit from the OMNR.
There are 4 types of permits:
1)      Health and Safety
2)      Protection or Recovery of the Species
3)      Overall Benefit to the Species
4)      Significant Social or Economic Benefit to Ontario.
5)      Permit conditions vary.
6)      You MUST obtain a permit to transplant seedlings that  occur naturally.
       
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?
  • If considering removal of a butternut, it is the landowner’s responsibility to contact a qualified BHA to determine if their butternut is retainable or not.
  • Even if the tree appears to be dead or dying, it REQUIRES an assessment by a BHA before removal.
  • If a butternut tree is removed without conducting a Butternut Health Assessment to determine if the tree is non-retainable or without a permit if the tree is determined to be retainable, the landowner may risk prosecution under the ESA.
  • In any prosecution under the ESA a person has the opportunity to raise a defence of due diligence – this means that the person exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence, or person honestly and reasonably believed in the existence of facts which, if true, would render the person’s conduct innocent.
 
CAN I PRUNE OF DIG AROUND THE BUTTERNUT ON MY PROPERTY?
  • Pruning the crown or root disturbance of retainable butternut trees can occur without an ESA permit provided that an expert has determined that the proposed work will not cause harm to the butternut tree. In these cases, landowners should obtain expert advice so that the work will not result in a contravention of the ESA.
 
CAN I HAVE BUTTERNUT WOOD OR PRODUCTS MADE FROM BUTTERNUT?
  • A person is entitled to possess any items made from butternut wood that were legally possessed before the Endangered Species Act came into force on June 30, 2008, regardless of the health of the butternut tree the item came from.
  • Any butternut wood from a non-retainable tree can be used, bought or sold.
  • If you are planning to log your woodlot, an OMNR-certified tree marker can help you to select the trees to be removed to ensure the continued health of your forest.
 
CAN I PLANT BUTTERNUT ON MY PROPERTY?
  • Planting butternut is encouraged to help keep butternut on the landscape to give us time to develop recovery options. Butternut seedling can be obtained through the Raisin Region Conservation Authority.
  • Butternut seeds CAN BE collected, bought, sold, and planted anywhere.
  • When you buy butternut nuts, ensure that it is from pure butternut that is adapted to your local climate; ideally from vigorous trees.
  • We suggest that you keep records of the location of planted butternut since they are not protected under the ESA and you may remove/prune/transplant them as you wish (unless they were planted as a condition under an ESA permit).
 
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
  • Private landowners are encouraged to report butternuts they have on their property to the Raisin Region Conservation Authority, the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, the Forest Gene Conservation Association, or the local OMNR district biologist. The recovery team is interested in learning under what conditions butternuts are surviving the disease, as well as looking for vigorous trees that can supply seed for planting programs or cloning material for a disease-resistant breeding program.
 
*Forest Gene Conservation Association. n.d. Butternut and the Endangered Species Act, 2007 – Information for Landowners. Forest Gene Conservation Association. Peterborough, Ontario. Available online at <http://www.fgca.net/conservation/sar/pdf/ Butternut_Info_for_landowners.pdf>.
 

 

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