Canada’s forests contain about 47 billion cubic metres (m3) of wood — enough wood to build over 1 billion average single-family homes.
- A number of factors influence tree growth, including climate, genetics, age, health, herbivory and availability of light, water and nutrients.
- Averaging 432 cubic metres per hectare (m3/ha), the forests along Canada’s west coast have the highest density of wood volume, more than three times the national average of 136 m3/ha.
- Spruce trees dominate Canada’s landscape, accounting for 47% of Canada’s total wood volume.
Tree volume is the volume inside the bark of the main tree stem, including stump and top as well as defective and decayed wood.
The wood volume estimate for Canada includes the volume of all forest stands within Canada’s forest area, regardless of age, ownership, protection status, accessibility or management.
Canada's tree volume (million cubic metres) on forest land by species group
|Species group||Wood volume (million m3)|
Why is this indicator important?
- Wood volume production rate (or productivity) is one of the inputs used by professional foresters to determine sustainable harvest levels on land managed for timber production.
- Wood volume, along with other information, is used to calculate forest biomass and carbon stocks.
What is the outlook?
- Wood volume will remain stable as long as volume losses from human-caused disturbances (such as harvesting) and natural disturbances (such as insect infestations, diseases and forest fires) are offset by gains from forest growth and regeneration. In regions affected by disturbances, wood volume may take years or decades to recover, depending on the extent of mortality caused by the disturbance as well as the regeneration and growth rates of the new forest. At a national level, losses in one region are often offset by gains in others.
- Scientists are finding evidence that tree growth, forest fires, drought and insects are being impacted by climate change. It is important to consider these complex factors to ensure a sustainable wood supply for future generations.
What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?
- United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): 15.2.1.b
Sources and information
- McKeever, D.B., et Howard, J.L. 2011. Solid wood timber products consumption in major end uses in the United States, 1950–2009: A technical document supporting the Forest Service 2010 RPA assessment. Madison, WI: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory.
- Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service’s calculation for number of average single-family houses that can be built from Canada’s wood volume is based on 2009 US housing statistics.
- National Forest Inventory. Standard reports, Table 4.0, Area (1000 ha) of forest and non-forest land in Canada (accessed April 10, 2018).
- National Forest Inventory. Standard reports, Table 15.1, Total tree volume (million m3) on forest land by forest type, age class, and terrestrial ecozone in Canada. (accessed April 10, 2018).
- Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service’s calculations for the volume of wood along Canada’s west coast refer to the Pacific Maritime ecozone, with data from National Forest Inventory Tables 4.0 and 15.1.
- Additional information on outlook for wood volume is available at:
- Gauthier, S., Bernier, P., et al. 2015. Boreal forest health and global change. Science 349, 819–822.
- Gauthier, S., Bernier, P.Y., et al. 2015. Vulnerability of timber supply to projected changes in fire regime in Canada’s managed forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 45, 1439–1447.
- Girardin, M.P., Bouriaud, O., et al. 2016. No growth stimulation of Canada’s boreal forest under half century of combined warming and CO2 fertilization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 113, E8406–E8414.
- Girardin, M.P., Hogg, E.H., et al. 2016. Negative impacts of high temperatures on growth of black spruce forests intensify with the anticipated climate warming. Global Change Biology 22, 627–643.
- Hember, R.A., Kurz, W.A., et al. 2012. Accelerating regrowth of temperate-maritime forests due to environmental change. Global Change Biology 18, 2026–2040.
- On the wood volume graph, the category “Others” includes the data classifications “Unspecified conifers,” “Unspecified hardwoods,” “Other hardwoods” and “Unclassified”; “Cedar” represents the “Cedar & other conifers” data classification.
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