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Indicator: Volume harvested relative to the sustainable wood supply

In 2017, Canada harvested 155.2 million cubic metres (m3) of industrial roundwood, well below the estimated sustainable wood supply level of 219.6 million m3.

  • This amount is a decrease of about 400,000 m3 from 2016 levels, when 155.6 million m3 of industrial roundwood was harvested.
  • At the same time, the estimated wood supply deemed to be sustainable declined by 3.5 million m3.
  • The modest decline in harvest is a result of a large decrease in the volume of softwood timber harvested in British Columbia combined with a nearly identical increase in the volume of softwood timber harvested in the rest of Canada.
  • Because the decline in sustainable wood supply was significantly greater than the decline in the volume harvested, the gap between them was slightly less than in 2016.

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

Annual harvest versus supply deemed sustainable for harvest, 1990–2017

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Graph summary

Hardwood supply remained very stable from 1990 to 2017. Softwood supply (and total wood supply) remained fairly stable until 2003, then increased slightly until 2008, after which it has been decreasing steadily. Hardwood harvest increased gradually from 1990 to 2004, after which it decreased slightly and has remained fairly stable since. Softwood harvest (and total harvest) went through a series of increases and decreases from 1990 to 2006 (with peaks in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005); they significantly decreased until 2009, after which they increased slightly and remained fairly stable since 2010.

Graph data
Table below displays, in millions of cubic metres, the 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 1990 and 2017.
Year Hardwood supply Softwood supply Total wood supply Hardwood harvest Softwood harvest Total harvest
1990 64 183 254 15 141 156
1991 62 183 252 16 139 156
1992 60 180 248 17 147 164
1993 60 177 244 19 150 170
1994 60 177 244 23 154 177
1995 59 174 240 26 157 183
1996 60 173 241 27 151 178
1997 61 175 243 30 154 184
1998 62 173 240 31 143 174
1999 62 176 243 34 163 197
2000 61 174 237 36 163 199
2001 61 177 238 34 150 184
2002 61 178 239 36 160 195
2003 62 179 241 38 144 181
2004 62 186 248 40 168 208
2005 62 183 246 36 165 201
2006 62 186 248 34 149 182
2007 62 191 253 27 135 162
2008 61 191 252 24 114 138
2009 59 182 241 21 94 116
2010 58 179 237 23 117 141
2011 57 175 232 26 121 147
2012 56 173 230 25 125 149
2013 56 171 227 25 126 151
2014 58 172 230 26 125 150
2015 58 170 228 27 128 155
2016 59 164 223 29 127 156
2017 67 152 220 30 125 155

Why is this indicator important?

  • Forest managers track the volume of industrial roundwood harvested each year to ensure it falls within sustainable levels.
  • Harvests from provincial Crown lands are regulated by allowable annual cuts (AACs).
  • While there is no AAC calculation for Canada as a whole, it is possible to compare the combined provincial AACs with the combined harvest totals from the same Crown land base.

What is the outlook?

  • Harvest levels are expected to remain below the sustainable wood supply, given the strong provincial and territorial regulatory regimes in place.
  • The gap between harvest and wood supply will likely continue to narrow as some provinces, notably British Columbia, lower their AACs while global demand for Canadian wood products remains strong.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

Sources and information
  • National Forestry Database. Wood supply, Table 2.1 Wood supply estimates by tenure and species group. (accessed April 9, 2019).
    • Wood supply includes allowable annual cuts for provincial Crown lands and potential harvests for federal and private lands.
    • The discrepancy between the “total industrial roundwood” supply volumes and the sum of the “total industrial softwoods” and “total industrial hardwoods” supply volumes is due to a very small amount of harvest categorized as “unspecified.” This supply represents some of the federal wood supply that has not been differentiated between “softwood” or “hardwood.”
  • National Forestry Database. Harvest, Table 5.1 Net merchantable volume of roundwood harvested by jurisdiction, tenure, category and species group. (accessed April 9, 2019).
    • Harvests include industrial roundwood only and exclude fuel wood and firewood.
    • 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 categorized as “unspecified.” Typically, this harvest occurs in mixedwood forests where neither softwood nor hardwood categories strictly apply, and it 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.

 

Table of contents — The State of Canada's Forests Report

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