How much forest does Canada have?
Canada’s forests cover 347 million hectares (ha) of land and make up nearly 9% of the world’s total forest area. Canada is the third-most forested country in the world by area. With nearly 10 ha/person, Canadians enjoy more forest area per person than most other countries in the world, over 17 times the world average.
Text version - How much of Canada is forest?
|Area type||Percent of total (%)|
|Non forest land||56.3%|
Text version - What is the composition of Canada's forests?
|Forest area composition||Percent of total (%)|
What is a forest?
Canada uses the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' definition of forest for the purposes of national forest inventory reporting:
- land spanning more than 0.5 ha
- tree canopy covering more than 10% of the total land area
- trees growing to a height of more than 5 metres at maturity
Land that is predominantly urban or used for agricultural purposes is not counted as forest.
A forest that has been harvested is still a forest
Forest land that temporarily has no trees is still considered to be forest when the disturbance’s impact is known to be temporary, and trees are expected to grow back. This situation occurs, for example, after a natural disturbance such as fire or after harvesting. Changes in forest area result from:
- afforestation – the deliberate establishment of forests on lands previously not forested
- deforestation – the permanent clearing of forests to make way for new, non-forest land uses
Text version - Of the 0.01% of Canada's forest lost to deforestation each year, the causes are (2017)
|Deforestation cause||Percent of total (%)|
|Mining, oil and gas||37%|
Sources and information
- Dyk, A., Leckie, D., et al. 2015. Canada’s National Deforestation Monitoring System: System Description. Victoria, BC: Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre.
- Describes Canada’s deforestation monitoring system. Note that the system was initially set up for greenhouse gas inventory and forest carbon accounting purposes, so it uses the greenhouse gas inventory and carbon accounting definition of forest.
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2014. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015 Country report: Canada. [481 Kb PDF]. Rome, Italy.
- Describes the methodology used to adjust the National Forest Inventory baseline estimate of forest area.
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Global Forest Resource Assessment 2015 results.
- This dataset was used to calculate Canada’s forest area as a proportion of the world’s forest area as well as forest area per capita.
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2018. Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020: Terms and definitions. [1 Mb PDF].
- The definitions of forest and afforestation and other terms are described in this document. Note that Canada uses this definition of forest for most but not all purposes. A slightly different definition is used for the national greenhouse gas inventory and forest carbon accounting.
- National Forest Inventory. Standard reports, Table 4.0. Area (1000 ha) of forest and non-forest land in Canada. (accessed March 7, 2019).
- Baseline estimate of Canada’s forest area.
- Statistics Canada. Table 15.6 Land and freshwater area, by province and territory. (accessed November 18, 2019).
- Rocky Mountain forest view of Mount Rundle in Banff National park. Photo by Pgiam/iStock by Getty Images.
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