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Sustainable forestry: Adapting to change

Key facts and figures about Canada’s forests and forest sector

Infographic - Canada is a leader in sustainable forest management, described below.

With 347 million hectares of forest, Canada is the third-most forested country in the world.

Donut graph showing 9%, which represents the total amount of forest Canada has compared to the entire world, with a map of the world in the centre.Canada has 9% of the world’s forests.
Donut graph showing 78%, which represents the amount of Canada’s forests located in the boreal zone, with a map of Canada’s boreal forest area in the centre.About 270 million hectares, or 78%, of Canada’s forests are located in the boreal zone.
Donut graph showing 38%, which represents the amount of Canada’s land area that is covered with forests, with a map of Canada’s forest area in the centre. Forests cover 38% of Canada’s land area.

Canada’s forests are important to Canadians, the economy and the environment

Icon showing a stylized person planting a conifer seedling.In 2018, the forest sector directly employed 204,555 people.
Icon showing a stylized hand holding money.In 2019, Canada’s forest sector contributed $23.7 billion to Canada’s nominal GDP.
Icon showing a stylized house surrounded by trees.According to the last census (2016), over 70% of Indigenous people in Canada live in or near forests.
Icon showing a stylized pitcher plant. Canada’s boreal wetlands represent nearly 20% of the world’s wetlands.

Canada’s forests are managed sustainably for future generations

200 million ha of forest in Canada have a long-term forest management plan (2016).
Canada has 168 million ha of forest certified to third-party standards of sustainable forest management (2019).
77% of Canada’s managed Crown forest land is certified to third-party standards of sustainable forest management.
By law, all forests harvested on public lands must be regenerated.

Canada’s forests and the forest sector are changing

Two side by side stylized flames of different sizes. An arrow points upward between the flames, representing a 50% increase in the annual area burned in the North American boreal zone between 1950 and 1999.Between 1950 and 1999, the area burned annually in the North American boreal zone more than doubled.
Two side by side stylized rolls of newsprint of different sizes. An arrow points downward between the rolls, indicating a 70% decrease in newsprint production between 1990 and 2019.In Canada, newsprint production declined 70% from 9 million tonnes in 1990 to 2.7 million tonnes in 2019 because of increased global competition from other low-cost producers and the increase of digital media.
An array of stylized coffee cups, half of which are coloured blue to represent 50% of consumer products that are expected to be advanced bio-based products by 2050.  Advanced bio-based products are expected to make up 50% of consumer products by 2050.

Canada’s forest sector is adapting to change

Table showing the area of forest in Canada, in hectares, affected by insects in 2018, burned in 2019, harvested in 2018, and deforested in 2018, and as a percentage of Canada’s total forest area
  Area (ha) Percent of forest area (%)
Area affected by insects (2018) 16,391,000 4.7%
Area burned (2019) 1,843,000 0.5%
Area harvested (2018) 748,000 0.2%
Area deforested (2018) 34,000 0.01%
Icon showing a stylized satellite orbiting the Earth.New technology:
In 2025, Canada will launch WildFireSat, a satellite built specifically to monitor wildfires.
Icon showing a stylized hand holding a conifer seedling.New management strategies:
Foresters are starting to replant harvested sites with trees better adapted to future climate conditions.

Canada’s forest sector supports the transition toward net-zero emissions

Icon showing a stylized tall building made of wood.New techniques:
Mass timber is an innovative low-carbon, sustainable building material that allows the construction of taller and larger buildings.
Icon showing a stylized test tube with a seedling growing in it.New products:
Forest biomass is refined into advanced biomaterials and biochemicals for use in health care, pharmaceutical, food and packaging applications. It could be the rayon shirt you are wearing, the compostable container for your take-out food, or one of your ice cream ingredients.
Icon showing a stylized lightbulb with a leaf in it. New energy:
Forest biomass is the second-largest source of renewable energy after hydroelectricity, providing both heat and electricity to industry and communities (2017).

Sources and information
  • General references
  • Forest area with a long-term forest management plan
    • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service. 2018.
      • Provinces and territories supplied the data for the total forest area with a long-term management plan, which were compiled by Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service. The data were adjusted to align with the total forest area as reported in Canada’s National Forest Inventory and in the sustainability indicator Forest area in The State of Canada’s Forests: Annual Report 2020.
  • Number of Indigenous people that live in or near forests
    • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service. Calculations based on Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census of Population and Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service’s National Forest Inventory’s forested land cover.
    • National Forest Inventory.
    • Statistics Canada. 2016 Census of Population.
      • Spatial (geographic information system) analysis used the two previous sources to calculate the percentage of forest cover by census subdivision (CSD). To be considered forested, a CSD needed to contain >=25% of forested land cover. Populations residing within those forested CSDs are considered living in or near forests.
      • This analysis is based on Statistics Canada’s census subdivisions. A subdivision is “the general term for municipalities (as determined by provincial/territorial legislation) or areas treated as municipal equivalents for statistical purposes (e.g. Indian reserves, Indian settlements and unorganized territories).” Since there is no standardized definition of community across provinces and territories, using census subdivisions allows for a consistent approach in reporting over time. In 2016, Canada was divided into 5,161 census subdivisions.

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

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