How do forests benefit Canadians?

Forests and the forest sector play a vital role in the well-being of all Canadians, including those who live in urban areas.

Economic benefits

The forest industry is an important source of income for one out of every seven Canadian census subdivisions.Footnote* While other natural resource sectors are often regionally concentrated, the forest sector is widely distributed, employing Canadians from coast to coast. In 2015, the forest industry accounted for 201,645 direct jobs. For many Canadians in rural areas, these jobs are crucial to ensuring their communities’ economic sustainability.

With 16 consecutive quarters showing positive operating profits, the forest industry appears to have emerged from the 2008 economic crisis: both employment and income have been relatively stable in recent years. In addition to improved job security, the sector offers job quality; today’s forest sector is becoming an increasingly dynamic, progressive place to work. The industry provides foresters, scientists, engineers, computer technologists, technicians and skilled tradespeople with long-term career opportunities in a wide variety of well-paid jobs. Thanks to almost 95,000 indirect jobs created around its industries, the forest sector’s economic benefits trickle down through entire local economies.

Indigenous participation in the forest sector

Forests play a central role – culturally, spiritually and economically – in the lives of many Indigenous communities across Canada. As of 2011, 70% of Indigenous communities in Canada were located in forested areas, and about 9,500 Indigenous people were employed in the forest sector.

Over the past decade, many provinces and territories have engaged in tenure reform efforts to encourage greater local and Indigenous community participation in the forest sector, creating new economic development opportunities for these communities.

Between 2003 and 2013, Indigenous peoples’ interests increased their share of total Canadian tenure volume from 5% to over 10%. Many Indigenous communities have successfully turned this expanded access to forest land and resources into economic benefits. Governments are actively supporting this effort by supporting forest-based business development, community readiness and employment activities for Indigenous communities across Canada.

Benefiting from trees and forests

  • Trees and other forest plants act as natural cleansers, filtering pollutants from air and water.
  • In cities, tree cover helps to reduce surface and air temperatures and improve air and water quality. Since a majority of Canadians live in urban areas, these benefits are considerable.
  • Forests also provide recreational and cultural benefits – whether in wilderness areas, managed stands or urban parks. With 11 million Canadians living in or adjacent to forested areas, these benefits are deeply valued and enjoyed by people across the country.
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