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How does the forest sector contribute to Canada’s economy?

The forest sector is an important part of Canada’s economy and is a key source of prosperity for people and communities from coast to coast.

  • About 205,000 people work in the forest sector (2018), including approximately 12,000 Indigenous people (2016).
  • The forest sector generated about $1.9 billion in revenue for provincial and territorial governments in 2018.
  • The forest sector contributed about $23.7 billion to Canada’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019.
  • The value of Canadian forest product exports is about $33 billion (2019).

Canadian forest products

Canada’s traditional forest sector includes forestry and logging, pulp and paper manufacturing, and wood product manufacturing. Lumber, solid wood products, pulp, and paper account for most of the production and exports from Canada’s forest sector.

The growing demand for non-traditional products, including an emerging market for bioproducts and value-added manufacturing has created new opportunities for the forest sector to create value and advance Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy in particular.

Canadian forest products in an international context

Canada is a global leader in the production of many forest products, including softwood lumber, wood pulp, and wood pellets. Over two-thirds of Canadian forest products are exported, and the United States is our largest trade partner, accounting for about 68% of Canada’s total forest product exports in 2019. However, export diversification efforts are opening opportunities in other markets, including Asia and Europe. Canada will continue to leverage new opportunities in global markets, and domestically, ensure that the forest sector remains a key economic engine for people and communities across the country.

Canadian forest sector exports by major region (2019)
Map showing the value of Canadian forest product exports, in million of dollars, to nine global regions and the total value of Canadian forest product exports in 2019, described below.
Text version

Map showing the destination of Canada’s forest product exports in 2019, by value and by region. The total value of Canada’s forest product exports to all destinations topped $33 billion in 2019. Canada’s largest export markets by value in 2019 were: the United States ($22.4 billion), China ($5.1 billion), East Asia ($2.2 billion), Europe ($1.1 billion), South and Southeast Asia ($0.9 billion), Oceania and Pacific Islands ($0.6 billion), South and Central America ($0.5 billion), Africa and West Asia ($0.2 billion).

Graph data
Table showing the value of Canadian forest product exports, in millions of dollars, to nine global regions and the total value of Canadian forest product exports in 2019.
Region Export value
United States $22,426
China $5,134
East Asia $2,191
Europe $1,056
South and Southeast Asia $926
Oceania and Pacific Islands $587
South and Central America $518
Africa and West Asia $167
Minor Islands $0.5
Total $33,005
 
Man in protective equipment using industrial equipment at a wood manufacturing facility.

While the forest sector accounted for a smaller overall share of Canada’s economy than other major resource sectors in 2019, it remains an important source of economic opportunity for people and communities across Canada. With more jobs per unit of output than other major resource sectors, the forest sector is particularly important in rural and remote areas where few other industries operate.

 

Sources and information
  • National Forestry Database. Revenues, Table 8.1 Statement of revenues from the sale of timber from provincial Crown land, by jurisdiction. (accessed March 16, 2020).
  • Statistics Canada. 2016 Census of Population (special extraction, April 20, 2018).
    • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service calculations for Indigenous employment are based on Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Population.
    • These values refer to the number of people “employed,” not “in the labour force,” which includes those “unemployed.”
    • Indigenous refers to people who are First Nations (North American Indian), Métis, 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.
  • Statistics Canada. Table 36-10-0450-01 (formerly CANSIM 384-0047) Revenue, expenditure and budgetary balance - General governments, provincial and territorial economic accounts (x 1,000,000). (accessed April 6, 2020).
  • Statistics Canada. Table 33-10-0006-01 (formerly CANSIM 180-0003) Financial and taxation statistics for enterprises, by industry type. (accessed April 29, 2020).
    • Includes data for NAICS codes 113, 1153, 321 and 322.
    • Includes data for Total Taxes and Total Indirect Taxes.
  • Statistics Canada. Table 36-10-0401-01 (formerly CANSIM 379-0029) Gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices, by industry (x 1,000,000). (accessed April 29, 2020).
    • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service’s calculations for 2015–2019 nominal GDP are based on Statistics Canada’s tables 36-10-0434-01, 18-10-0032-01 and 18-10-0029-01 (formerly CANSIM 379-0031, 329-0077 and 329-0074, respectively): GDP in 2012 constant prices, and estimated industry price deflators indexed to 2010.
  • Statistics Canada. Table 36-10-0402-01 (formerly CANSIM 379-0030) Gross domestic product (GDP) at basic prices, by industry, provinces and territories (x 1,000,000). Chained (2012) dollars. (accessed April 29, 2020).
    • Includes data for NAICS codes 113, 1153, 321 and 322.
  • Statistics Canada. Table 36-10-0489-01 (formerly CANSIM 383-0031): Labour statistics consistent with the System of National Accounts (SNA), by job category and industry. (accessed June 2, 2020).
    • Data include NAICS 113, 1153, 321, and 322.
    • Employment includes jobs held by people employed directly in the following industries: forestry and logging, support activities for forestry, pulp and paper product manufacturing, and wood product manufacturing.
    • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service prefers to use employment data from Statistics Canada’s System of National Accounts (SNA) because these data are linked to the underlying framework used to compile the Canadian System of National Accounts.
    • Statistics Canada updated the Labour statistics consistent with the System of National Accounts (SNA) in February 2020, which included several changes to the 2018 employment data for NAICS 113, 1153, 321, and 322 that were initially released on May 22nd, 2019. This means that the 2018 SNA data reported here are adjusted from values reported in previous editions of the State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report.
  • Statistics Canada. Merchandise trade data (special extraction, March 16, 2020).
    • “Total all forest products” includes only HS codes 44, 47 and 48.
Photo credit
  • Timber manufacturing facility stock photo by nattrass/iStock by Getty Images.
 

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

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