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5 ways Canada prevents illegal logging

Around the world, Canada is recognized as a producer of legally and sustainably harvested forest products. Canada has put comprehensive laws and regulations in place to govern harvesting and trade in timber. By closely monitoring forestry operations and enforcing the law, Canada successfully keeps illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber down to negligible levels in all regions.

Internationally, illegal logging and the illegal timber trade results in significant financial costs to the forest products industry. They also have negative environmental and social consequences, including forest degradation, increased carbon emissions and harmful impacts on biodiversity.

Here are some of the ways Canada prevents illegal logging and trade in illegal timber.

1. Canada’s laws and regulations reduce the risk of illegal logging.

Over 90% of Canada’s forests are publicly owned. The provinces and territories develop and enforce legislation and policies related to sustainable forest management. They also approve forest management plans and monitor and enforce forest practices, ensuring that harvesting is done sustainably and that harvested areas are regenerated.

Forestry companies that operate on the land are bound by federal laws. They must also comply with the particular requirements of international agreements Canada has signed, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Canada is a country that respects the rule of law. From organizations such as Transparency International and the World Bank, Canada consistently earns ratings as a jurisdiction with a very low incidence of corruption. Learn more about Canada’s forest management laws.

2. Canada’s legal framework protects commercial tree species and trees at risk.

Of Canada’s 180 different tree species, only about 35 are harvested for commercial purposes, largely because these species are abundant and broadly distributed. In localized areas where these commercial species are rare, they are protected by regulations and government-approved forest management plans that do not allow for their harvest. Also, no commercial species has ever been listed in the Canadian Species at Risk Act or regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

3. Nearly half of Canada’s forests are certified – more than in any other country.

Third-party forest management certification systems assess forest operations in Canada against world-recognized standards for legal, sustainable forest management. Three different systems are used in Canada to conduct annual third-party audits of forest operations and publicly report the results.

As of 2015, more than 46% of Canada’s forests – 166 million hectares – had been certified by at least one of the three systems. This represents 43% of all certified forests in the world, more than in any other country. Find out more about forest certification in Canada.

4. International reports confirm that Canada is a trusted source of legal forest products.

Report after report from many of Canada’s export markets confirms the country’s reputation for sustainable and legal forestry. The low incidence of illegal logging in Canada has been remarked on by several organizations, including:

  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • World Resources Institute
  • Spanish Timber Importers’ Association (AEIM)
  • UK Timber Trade Federation

5. Canada’s laws and actions prevent illegal wood imports.

Canada is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES:

  • is an international agreement between governments
  • aims to ensure that international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Canada has also adopted legislation that enforces the aims of the Convention. Canada’s Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA):

  • empowers the Minister to regulate trade in CITES-listed species
  • is used to enforce CITES and control imports of non CITES-listed species that have been obtained illegally

Section 6 (1) of WAPPRIITA states: “No person shall import into Canada any animal or plant that was taken, or any animal or plant, or any part or derivative of an animal or plant, that was possessed, distributed or transported in contravention of any law of any foreign state.”

Environment Canada enforces WAPPRIITA and works with many partners to ensure compliance with CITES.

Why Canada is trusted for legal, sustainable forest products

Learn how Canada’s forestry laws, monitoring and enforcement keep our forests healthy, safe and sustainable.

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