Indicator: Forest area

Of Canada’s 909 million hectares (ha) of land, 347 million ha is forest land.

  • Canada’s forest area has been quite stable over the past 25 years.
  • Between 1990 and 2016, Canada’s forest area decreased by 1.3 million ha (less than half of 1%).
  • Those forests were deforested for other land uses, such as agriculture, roads and hydroelectric and urban developments.

While forest area is relatively constant, forest cover within that area is more dynamic. Forest fires, insect infestations, timber harvesting, growth and regeneration contribute to the continually changing mosaic of forest cover within Canada’s forest area.

Estimated area (millions of hectares) of forest in Canada

Table showing in millions of hectares the amount of Canada’s forests in 5 year intervals from 1990 to 2015.
Year 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015
Forest area 348.3 348.0 347.8 347.6 347.3 347.1

Why is this indicator important?

  • Permanent losses and gains in forest area affect the stability and sustainability of forest resources, biodiversity, wildlife habitat and ecosystem services, such as air and water purification and carbon sequestration.

What is the outlook?

  • Given Canada’s low rate of deforestation and its commitment to sustainable forest management practices, Canada’s overall forest area is likely to remain stable over the near term.
  • Climate change is altering environments and, over the longer term, could change the extent of Canada’s forest area.
  • Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments continue to work together to monitor our forest resources to understand how and where they are changing over time.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

Sources and information