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Indicator: Forest area

Canada has 347 million hectares (ha) of forest area (2017). From 1990 to 2017, Canada’s total forest area decreased by less than half of 1%.

  • Between 1990 and 2017, the area of forest in Canada’s northernmost ecozones remained almost unchanged (0.0 to 0.1% loss of forest area over a 27-year period). In these ecozones, forests are remote and sparsely populated.
  • The highest deforestation rates over the past 27 years have been in the Prairies (6.5% forest area loss since 1990), Mixedwood Plains (2.0%) and Boreal Plains (1.5%). In these three ecozones, the leading cause of forest area loss has been the conversion of forest to agricultural land.
  • As shown in the figure below, in most ecozones there has been virtually no detectible deforestation over the past 27 years.

Canada’s forest area, by ecozone


Graph summary

Canada's forest area has stayed nearly constant over the last 27 years. The Prairie ecozone has had the most deforestation, with 6.5% of the forest area lost since 1990. The next highest deforestation rates include the Mixedwood Plains ecozone (2.0%), and the Boreal Plains ecozone (1.5%). The remaining ecozones have remained virtually unchanged; each has lost less than one half of one percent of its forest area in the last 27 years.

Graph data
Table showing, in thousands of hectares, Canada's forest area by ecozone for 1990 and 2017.
Ecozone 1990 2017
Taiga Plains 33,615 33,588
Taiga Shield 46,336 46,288
Boreal Shield 131,379 131,142
Atlantic Maritime 16,309 16,262
Mixedwood Plains 3,201 3,136
Boreal Plains 38,807 38,208
Prairies 1,259 1,178
Taiga Cordillera 6,443 6,443
Boreal Cordillera 19,120 19,115
Pacific Maritime 10,764 10,730
Montane Cordillera 31,181 31,094
Hudson Plains 9,858 9,856

Why is this indicator important?

  • Knowing where and why permanent losses and gains in forest area occur is important for managing forests sustainably.
  • Permanent changes in forest area impact forest resources and can influence ecosystem diversity and ecosystem services such as air and water purification and carbon sequestration.

What is the outlook?

  • With a low rate of deforestation and a strong commitment to sustainable forest management practices, Canada’s forest area is expected to remain stable over the near-term.
  • Climate change could impact the extent of Canada’s forest area over the longer term.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

Sources and information


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

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