What does “proximity to the forest” mean?

20 May 2020

Regarding forest protection, the Law on Sustainable Forest Management and its regulations apply in or in the vicinity of the forest.

But what does the expression “in the vicinity of the forest” or “proximity to the forest” mean?

(Particularly in the case of an open fire ban or in the issuing of burning permits.)

The law and regulations do not clearly define it. Proximity to the forest can be relative, so there is no strict definition. However, it can be said that you are in proximity to the forest if there is a possibility that your fire will reach the forest should you lose control of it. Whether it is through the spreading of firebrands or through the ignition of ground fuels (brush, grass, etc.), if there is a risk that your fire could reach the forest you are considered to be in the vicinity of it.

However, be aware that the risk of spread is linked to several elements such as weather conditions, time of day and type of fuel. For example, the windier it is the greater the risk.

In the spring, you must be particularly vigilant. Surface fuel, such as dry grass, twigs or moss, ignites easily and can spread a fire to the surrounding forest. You may be closer to the forest than you think and therefore it’s not a question of distance, but of risk.

If you are in doubt, it is probably because you are too close to the forest.

A fire in an urban area, a fire in an open area, or a fire in the middle of a field far away from a forest are examples of open fires where the restrictions would not apply.

In municipal territory, municipal by-laws must also be considered, which may be more restrictive than those proposed by the SOPFEU and enforced by the MFFP.