Information for importers of Canadian forest products

In 2015, Canada published a new guidance document that provides information on Canadian forest management for businesses that import Canadian timber and timber products. The document, called Canada’s Regulatory Framework for Forest Management: Information for Importers of Canadian Forest Products, will help business carry out their due diligence obligations. Below are some highlights of the key questions and answers featured in the framework.

How do suppliers prove compliance with Canadian laws?
There is no single document that demonstrates the legality of timber or timber products sourced from Canada. However, Canada’s legislative framework provides assurances that Canadian timber products are at low risk of being illegally harvested.

What is the risk of sourcing timber that has been harvested illegally in Canada?
The probability of illegally logged timber products entering the supply chain throughout Canada is negligible. Comprehensive legislative supervision in Canada provides assurance that Canadian timber products are made from legally sourced timber.

Independent evidence from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute has reported that Canada has the lowest occurrence of suspicious log supply and corruption of any country.

What is the risk of sourcing timber that has been harvested illegally in Canada when the process includes many suppliers and/or many components?
Supply chains that involve many companies do not have a higher risk of incorporating illegally supplied components when all the timber utilized throughout the supply chain was harvested in Canada. Even if there are many suppliers or inputs involved, the probability of sourcing timber that has been illegally harvested remains negligible. It is unnecessary to assess the risk for each component or species because all Canadian commercial tree species and timber products in trade are of negligible risk.

What is the risk of sourcing a mix of timber or timber products from Canada and the United States that will include illegally harvested content?
The forest products sector in Canada and the United States is highly integrated, with logs and other timber products crossing the border to supply mills in both countries. Although Canadian timber products may contain US inputs, the risk of them containing illegally harvested content remains negligible.

The United States Lacey Act prohibits the trade in illegally sourced timber products and Canada’s Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act prohibits the import of all plant and plant products (including timber) that were taken, possessed, distributed or transported in contravention of any foreign laws.

Find more information about how Canada prevents imports of illegally harvested forest products.

Are any commercial tree species harvested in Canada prohibited?
No Canadian commercial tree species are listed in national or international legislation that protects endangered species. While some provincial or territorial governments have legislation that protects certain commercial species that are indigenous but rare to their region, government-approved forest management plans do not allow their harvest.

Learn more about government-approved forest management plans.

Where is harvesting prohibited in Canada?
Certain areas are off limits to timber harvest, either as legislated protected areas with defined boundaries or as areas set aside as “non-harvestable” within timber-producing forests.

More than 24 million hectares (7%) of forest land in Canada are within protected areas. Within this, more than 75% of Canada’s protected forest land is strictly protected, with no resource extraction permitted. The remaining forest land is managed primarily for habitat and species protection.

Learn more about conservation and protected areas.

General information about Canada’s forests

Canada has nearly 348 million hectares of forested land. This represents 38% of Canada’s land surface. About 90% of Canada’s forests is owned and managed by the provincial and territorial governments on behalf of Canadians. An additional 2% of forest land is under federal jurisdiction, and Aboriginal peoples own and manage another 2%. The remaining 6% of Canada’s forest land is on private property.

More information is available in the State of Canada’s Forests report.

Each of Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories has legislative authority over the conservation and management of forest resources on its public land. This authority affords the provincial and territorial governments the ability to regulate and enforce how Canada’s forests are managed.

In addition to the provinces and territories having jurisdiction over the management of most forested land, forestry operations are also bound by national legislation. The federal government has legislative authority over forest resources where those resources affect, or are affected by, matters related to the national economy, trade and international relations; federal lands and parks; and the government’s constitutional, treaty, political and legal responsibilities for Aboriginal peoples.

For more information

Legality and sustainability in Canada’s forests

Detailed information on laws, licenses, permits and enforcement systems in each province and territory is available at Sustainable Forest Management in Canada, a website hosted by the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers.

Contact us by email for more information.