Indicator: Volume harvested relative to the sustainable wood supply

In 2015, Canada harvested just over 160 million cubic metres (m3) of timber, well below the estimated sustainable wood supply level of 226 million m3.

  • This is an increase of about 5 million m3 from 2014 levels, when 155 million m3 of timber were harvested.
  • This is due to an increase in the volume of both softwood and hardwood timber harvested.
  • There was virtually no change in the estimated volume of wood supply deemed to be sustainable.

Sustainable wood supply refers to the volume of timber that can be harvested from provincial, territorial, private and federal lands while meeting environmental, economic and social objectives.

Annual harvest versus supply deemed sustainable for harvest, 2005–2015
volume of softwood and hardwood supply and harvest (for all land types – provincial, territorial, federal, private) as well as their total for each year between 2005 and 2015.
Graph data
Table displays, in million cubic metres, the volume of softwood and hardwood harvest and the volume of softwood and hardwood supply (for all land types—provincial, territorial, federal, private) as well as their total for each year between 2005 and 2015.
  2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Softwood supply 183 186 190 189 184 180 175 172 170 170 169
Hardwood supply 61 60 60 60 58 56 56 55 54 56 57
Total wood supply 244 246 251 250 240 235 229 226 224 227 226
Softwood harvest 166 149 135 115 95 118 122 125 127 126 129
Hardwood harvest 40 36 30 26 24 26 28 28 28 28 31
Total harvest 206 185 166 141 119 144 150 153 156 155 161

Why is this indicator important?

  • Forest managers track the volumes of timber harvested each year to ensure they fall within sustainable levels.
  • Harvests from provincial Crown lands are regulated by allowable annual cuts (AAC).
  • While there is no AAC calculated for Canada as a whole, it is possible to compare the combined provincial AACs with the combined timber harvest totals from the same Crown landbase.

What is the outlook?

  • As the global demand for Canadian forest products increases, the volume of timber harvested can be expected to increase, narrowing the gap between harvest and sustainable wood supply levels.
  • Yet, harvest levels are expected to remain below the sustainable wood supply, given the strong provincial and territorial regulatory regimes in place.
  • National Forestry Database. Wood supply – Quick facts, Annual harvest versus wood supply, 1990–2015. (accessed June 30, 2017).
    • Harvests include industrial roundwood only and exclude fuel wood and firewood.
    • Wood supply includes allowable annual cuts (AACs) for provincial Crown lands and potential harvests for federal and private lands.
    • The discrepancy between the harvested volumes of “total industrial roundwood” and the sum of the “total industrial softwoods” and “total industrial hardwoods” is due to a very small amount of harvest categorised as “unspecified.” Typically, this harvest occurs in mixedwood forests where neither softwood nor hardwood categories strictly apply, and accounts for less than 1% of the harvested volume of total industrial roundwood. More information on these data can be found at the National Forestry Database, listed above.