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The 2020 State of Canada's Forests Annual Report: An overview

Forests and forest resources are an integral part of life in Canada. They are the source of many of the products we use every day, and they sustain many local economies across the country. They also provide numerous recreational opportunities and have strong cultural importance for many Canadians.

With 9% of the world’s forests found in Canada, and strong ties between Canadians and our forests, Canada has a strong commitment to sustainable forest management.

Canadians, policy makers and decision makers need information to ensure that forests in Canada are sustainable for generations to come. The State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report is a science-based report that conveys trends, statistics and stories about Canada’s forests and the forest sector from a national perspective.

The 2020 edition of The State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report marks its 30th anniversary.

This report, the 30th edition of The State of Canada’s Forests, aims to enhance decisions, inform public debate, and help demonstrate to consumers that Canadian products come from sustainably managed forests. It shows how the forest sector is critical to the low carbon transition and the efforts made across the value chain to grow the circular bioeconomy in Canada. The theme of this year’s report is Canada’s Forests: Adapting to Change, with stories and infographics centred around the challenges and opportunities for Canada’s forests and forest sector in the face of change.

Canada’s forests and the forest sector are facing rapid and widespread change

Natural disturbances such as forest fires, insects, and disease are essential to the health and renewal of Canada’s forests. However, extreme weather events and changing environmental conditions associated with climate change, as well as the introduction of exotic insects and diseases, are increasing stand mortality, affecting wood fibre quality and supply, and leading to more frequent and severe wildfires.

Meanwhile, uncertainty in global trade, changes in consumer demands, and increasing international competition are challenging Canada’s forest sector. In addition, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has added even greater uncertainty for Canada’s forest sector going forward, as the sector grapples with rapid and unexpected changes in global supply and demand as well as concerns with health and safety.

Canada’s forests are an essential part of global solutions

In the face of global change, forests have emerged as an essential part of the solution to many critical challenges. They mitigate the effects of climate change; provide renewable products and energy; support high-paying jobs; and contribute to a greener economy. Canada’s forest sector has experienced the continued growth of mass timber as a low carbon, renewable building material and the importance of wood pellets as both a source of renewable heat and power and a driver of resource efficiency. The Canadian forest sector is adapting, too, by investing in emerging technologies, diversifying through bioproducts, and meeting the increasing demand for renewable energy.

Monitoring and reporting supports a sustainable future for forests

To ensure the long-term sustainability of Canada’s forests and forest sector, comprehensive data and transparent reporting is critical. The sustainability indicators in The State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report provide data and analysis about the past, current, and future trends in Canada’s forests and forest sector.

When measured over time, sustainability indicators:

  • provide essential information about the state of, and trends in, Canada’s forests
  • highlight areas for improvement in forest management policies and practices
  • supply reliable information for discussions and initiatives related to environmental performance and trade

The sustainability indicators in The State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report are comparable to those published by other countries participating in the Montréal Process. This international working group of 12 nations measures progress toward the conservation and sustainable management of 90% of the world’s boreal and temperate forests. Canada also uses some of these indicators to report on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as the United Nations’ Global Forest Goals.

The sustainability indicators in The State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report support:

Icon of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Life on Land, showing stylized birds in the air, a tree and land.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 15 – Life on Land, and

The United Nations’ Global Forest Goals:

Icon of United Nations’ Global Forest Goal 1: Reverse forest cover loss showing side-by-side a stylized coniferous and a deciduous tree.
(1) Reverse forest cover loss
Icon of United Nations’ Global Forest Goal 2: Improve forests benefits and livelihoods showing three stylized people beside a large plant.
(2) Improve forest benefits and livelihoods
Icon of United Nations’ Global Forest Goal 3: Protect forest and use sustainable forest products showing a stylized mushroom.
(3) Protect forests and use sustainable forest products
Icon of United Nations’ Global Forest Goal 4: Mobilize resources showing a stylized person with an overlaid dollar sign.
(4) Mobilize resources

Innovation and adaptation drive Canada’s forest sector

The State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report also provides context about Canada’s forest sector through feature stories that highlight how the forest sector is adapting and transforming. This year’s report includes stories on:

  • how a revolutionary greenhouse in Quebec is benefitting from an adjacent pulp mill
  • how Canada will use a space satellite and artificial intelligence to fight forest fires
  • how scientists and Indigenous communities are working toward co-creation of research
  • how researchers are using genomics to help Canada’s forests thrive in the face of climate change

These stories provide a snapshot of some of the current challenges and opportunities facing Canada’s forests and forest sector and provide insight into where the future may lead.

An authoritative report with trusted information

Canada has been sustainably managing its forests for many years and is proud to present this report. As it has for the last 30 years, The State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report is, and will continue to be, an accurate, comprehensive and authoritative source for information on the social, economic and environmental state of Canada’s forests and forest sector.

The State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report is designed to be as informative and user-friendly as possible, and we welcome your feedback.

Sources and information
Photo credits
  • Global forest goal icons provided courtesy of the International Model Forest Network.
  • Sustainable development goal 15 icon provided courtesy of the United Nations.

This article is from The State of Canada’s Forests Annual Report 2020. Download the PDF version from our publications database.

Table of contents — The State of Canada's Forests Report

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