Indicator: Communities

Canadian forests provide innumerable economic, recreational, cultural and environmental benefits for all Canadians, in both rural and urban settings.

  • About 31% or 11 million Canadians live in or adjacent to forested areas.
  • The forest sector is a major source of income in 105 census subdivisions in Canada.
  • About 9,700 Indigenous people were employed in the forest sector in 2017 according to the Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey.

Forest proximity, forest sector income and forest sector Indigenous employment across Canada are just some of the indicators that together portray how forests influence the lives and communities of Canadians.

Indigenous employment in Canada’s forest sector: Results from the 2016 Census

  • Canada’s Census Program provides a statistical portrait of the country every five years. According to the 2016 Census, the forest sector employed 11,565 Indigenous people, accounting for 6.2% of all forest sector employment.
  • Census data also showed that Indigenous employment in the forest sector is concentrated in in-forest activities and wood product manufacturing.
  • Note that the sampling methodologies of the Labour Force Survey and Census differ and therefore produce different results, with the Census being more comprehensive.

Why is this indicator important?

  • In communities with a large proportion of workers and revenue linked to the forest sector, social and economic well-being are highly dependent on the economic strength of the sector.
  • Residents of forested areas benefit from a range of environmental services (clean air and water, erosion protection, wildlife habitat) and from opportunities for outdoor recreation. These benefits enhance human health by improving physical, mental and spiritual well-being and reducing stress.

What is the outlook?

  • Indigenous participation in Canada’s forest industry is expected to increase. Several Indigenous-led projects were announced in 2017 and new Government of Canada programs, such as Clean Energy for Rural and Remote Communities, present additional opportunities for Indigenous participation in the natural resources sector, including forestry.
  • The forest sector will continue to contribute to livelihoods and well-being for both rural and urban Canadians. Sector recovery and diversification will provide more economic development opportunities for rural Canadians, and forest-based climate actions are expected to play an important role in Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

Horses and riders cantering past harvested logs.
Two horses canter past a pile of logs in the Larose Forest, just east of Ottawa, Ontario. Logging roads and paths in the Larose Forest are converted to recreational trails for ten different user groups, including horseback riders, snowmobilers, mountain bikers and mushers.
Sources and information
  • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service calculations are based on 1) Statistics Canada, 2016 Census of Population, and 2) Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service, North American boreal zone map shapefiles.
    • “Adjacent” (in “Canadians who live in or adjacent to forested areas”) is not defined by a specific distance from a forested area, but through analyses. Forested area data are laid over Statistics Canada dissemination areas (DAs); if any portion of a DA contains forested land, the entire population of that DA is considered to live in or adjacent to forests.
      • Statistics Canada defines a dissemination area as a “small area composed of one or more neighbouring blocks, with a population of 400 to 700 persons.” A DA is a “relatively stable geographic unit” and “the smallest standard geographic area for which all census data are disseminated.” All of Canada is divided into dissemination areas.
    • GIS-based analyses used the BOREAL and B_ALPINE layers.
  • Statistics Canada. 2017 Labour Force Survey and 2016 Census of Population (special extractions, June 7, 2018 and April 20, 2018, respectively).
    • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service calculations for Indigenous employment are based on Statistics Canada, 2017 Labour Force Survey and 2016 Census of Population.
    • Note that the Labour Force Survey is completed annually and that the Census of Population is completed every five years. As such, reported employment values may differ.
    • A decline in this indicator may reflect either a decline in the fortunes of the forest sector (e.g., if a mill closes, the income from the forest sector goes down) or an increase in diversification of the economy overall (e.g., there may be no changes in forest sector income, but other sources of income increase). As a result, an increasing or a declining trend in the number of Census subdivisions having the forest sector as a major economic driver is hard to interpret in the absence of other information.
    • A “forested area” is defined for this indicator as an area with over 60% tree cover.
    • The forest sector communities indicator is based on Statistics Canada’s Census subdivisions. A “subdivision” is “the general term for municipalities (as determined by provincial/territorial legislation) or areas treated as municipal equivalents for statistical purposes (e.g., Indian reserves, Indian settlements and unorganized territories).” Since there is no standardized definition of “community” across provinces and territories, using Census subdivisions allows for a consistent approach in reporting over time.
    • Employment data from Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Population: This value refers to the number of people “employed” and not “in the labour force,” which includes those “unemployed.” “Indigenous” refers to persons who are First Nations (North American Indian), Métis or Inuk (Inuit) and/or those who are Registered or Treaty Indians (that is, registered under the Indian Act), and/or those who have membership in a First Nation or Indian band.
    • The forest sector is considered to be a major economic driver if it accounts directly for 20% or more of market income (i.e., total income excluding government transfers) in a census subdivision. This differs from the previous definition of “forest dependence,” which was based on more than 50% of total income (including transfer income) being directly attributable to the forest sector.
Photo credit
  • Photo of two riders cantering through the Larose Forest by Madison Farrow-Beck.