How much forest does Canada have?

Canada has 9% of the world’s forests.

This amounts to 347 million hectares (ha) of forest, of which 270 million ha are boreal forest. This is enough forest to fill all of Cambodia, Cameroon, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Nicaragua, South Korea, Sweden and Uruguay and still have enough trees left over to fill the United Kingdom.

By volume, Canada’s forests contain about 47 billion cubic metres of wood. This is enough timber to cover the City of Montreal in about 36 storeys of solid wood.

Canada's forest area

How is “forest” defined?

Canada uses the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations definition of forest:

  • land spanning more than 0.5 ha
  • the tree canopy covers more than 10% of the total land area
  • the trees can grow to a height of more than 5 metres

The definition does not include land that is mostly urban or used for agricultural purposes.

A forest that has been harvested is still a forest

Forest land that temporarily has no trees – for example, after harvesting or a natural disturbance such as fire – is still considered a forest, because trees grow back. This is not the same as deforestation, which is the permanent clearing of forest to make way for a new non-forest land use, such as agriculture or commercial development.

The opposite of deforestation is afforestation, which means that new forest is created through planting or seeding on land that wasn’t forest before. Afforestation and deforestation drive forest area change.

The current rate of land-use change from forest to other uses is very low in Canada. Between 1990 and 2015, about one-third of a percent of Canada’s total forest area was converted to other land uses.

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