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Forest-Related Ordinances in Virginia: A Case Study in Regulatory De-evolution

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An inventory of Virginia's counties and incorporated cities was conducted in 2005 to detect the presence of forest-related ordinances. Comparative inventory results suggest that the number of ordinances appears to have increased from 44 in 1992 to 377 in 2005. Local governments in Virginia have enacted forest-related ordinances addressing erosion and sediment control, the use of prescribed fire, forestry in floodplains and wetlands, scenic limitations, timber harvesting, and the use of pesticides. Nearly all (97%) local governments have been involved in the regulation of forestry to some extent. Study observations include inconsistent regulatory standards among municipalities, potential conflicts with state mandates, and concern for the uncertain effects on the management of private forestland. Policy implications might include state action to provide greater uniformity in local standards, clarification of the relationship between state-level requirements and local implementation, refining the definition of terms such as “silviculture,” and state reaction by amending Virginia's Right to Practice Forestry statute.

Keywords: Municipality; forest management; forest practices; regulations

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2006

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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