Of Canada’s 909 million hectares (ha) of land, 347 million ha is forest land.
- Canada’s forest area has been quite stable over the past 25 years.
- Between 1990 and 2016, Canada’s forest area decreased by 1.3 million ha (less than half of 1%).
- Those forests were deforested for other land uses, such as agriculture, roads and hydroelectric and urban developments.
While forest area is relatively constant, forest cover within that area is more dynamic. Forest fires, insect infestations, timber harvesting, growth and regeneration contribute to the continually changing mosaic of forest cover within Canada’s forest area.
Estimated area (millions of hectares) of forest in Canada
Why is this indicator important?
- Permanent losses and gains in forest area affect the stability and sustainability of forest resources, biodiversity, wildlife habitat and ecosystem services, such as air and water purification and carbon sequestration.
What is the outlook?
- Given Canada’s low rate of deforestation and its commitment to sustainable forest management practices, Canada’s overall forest area is likely to remain stable over the near term.
- Climate change is altering environments and, over the longer term, could change the extent of Canada’s forest area.
- Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments continue to work together to monitor our forest resources to understand how and where they are changing over time.
What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?
- Montreal Process (MP): 1.1.a (157 Kb PDF)
- United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG): 15.1.1
Sources and information
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2012. FRA 2015: Terms and definitions. Forest Resources Assessment Working Paper 180. Rome, Italy.
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2014. Global forest resources assessment 2015 – Country report: Canada. Rome, Italy.
- National Forest Inventory. Standard reports, Table 4.0, Area (1000 ha) of forest and non-forest land in Canada. (accessed April 10, 2017).
- The base estimate of forest area for Canada comes from the National Forest Inventory (NFI) report at the source above.
- The estimate of current forest area (2015) was calculated by taking the NFI baseline estimate and adjusting it for known increases in forest area (afforestation) and known decreases in forest area (deforestation) that have occurred since the NFI baseline data were collected. These adjustments are described in Canada’s country report to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015.
- The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations definitions of “forest” and other terms are provided in FRA 2015: Terms and Definitions.
- Additional information can be found at:
- 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.
- Johnston, M., Campagna, M., et al. 2009. Vulnerability of Canada’s tree species to climate change and management options for adaptation: An overview for policy makers and practitioners. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Council of Forest Ministers.
- Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service. Changing climate, changing forest zones.
- Price, D.T., Alfaro, R.I., et al. 2013. Anticipating the consequences of climate change for Canada’s boreal forest ecosystems. Environmental Reviews 21, 322–365.
- Statistics Canada. Table 15.6 Land and freshwater area, by province and territory. (accessed March 5, 2018).