How does the forest sector contribute to Canada’s economy?
The forest sector is an important contributor to Canada’s economy, serving as a key source of prosperity for people and communities across the country. The Canadian forest sector has traditionally manufactured products such as lumber, panels, wood pulp, newsprint and other printing and writing papers. However, new non-traditional products are added to the forest sector’s repertoire each year to meet the needs and demands of our ever-changing world. The forest sector serves as an important source of economic opportunity for people and communities, employing Canadians from every province and territory except Nunavut. The economic contributions from the sector are particularly important in many rural, remote and Indigenous communities, where forest-related work is often the main source of income.
Key sustainability indicators
Explore the report to find information on the key sustainability indicators:
- Forest sector gross domestic product: Annual reporting of the Canadian forest sector’s GDP. Contributions to nominal GDP is one of the primary indicators used to evaluate the size and health of Canada’s forest sector.
- Production of forest products: Total yearly production of Canadian forest products. This indicator is important because Canada is one of the top global manufacturers of forest products, and production is one of the first indicators influenced by economic and market challenges.
- Exports of forest products: Total value of annual exports of Canadian forest products. This indicator provides information related to how the Canadian forest sector meets the needs of global consumers, including helping them achieve their climate mitigation goals, while making a substantial contribution to Canada’s economy and balance of trade.
Download the report
(PDF, 96 MB)
Forest sector gross domestic product
Canadian forest sector’s GDP, 2010–2020
Graph 1: Nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of the Canadian forest sector was about $19.0 billion in 2010, but then decreased 3% in 2011 to about $18.6 billion. Nominal GDP then increased on average 4% annually from 2012 to 2018, when it reached about $26.0 billion. In 2019, nominal GDP declined to about $24.2 billion, but then increased in 2020 to $25.2 billion.
The forestry and logging subsector contributed between $3.4 billion and $5.0 billion each year to the forest sector’s nominal GDP.
The wood product manufacturing subsector increased its annual contribution from about $6.8 billion in 2010, to a high of 12.6 billion in 2020.
The pulp and paper manufacturing subsector contributed between $7.4 billion and $9.7 billion each year from 2010 to 2020. In 2020, the pulp and paper manufcturing subsector contributed $8.4 billion.
Graph 2: Real GDP growth of the Canadian forest sector grew in 2010 and 2011 by about 9% annd 1%, respectively. In 2012, real GDP shrank by about 1%, then grew for 4 years in a row at about 0.2% to 4% growth per year. Real GDP of the Canadian forest sector shrank by 2% in 2017 and 0.1% in 2018. In 2019, the forest sector annual real GDP growth declined by about 7%, but total annual real GDP for all industries grew by almost 2%. In 2020, total forest industry growth declined by almost 2%, and total annual real GDP for all industries also shrank by about 5%.
Table showing the contribution, in billions of dollars, of three subsectors of the forest sector (forestry and logging, wood product manufacturing, pulp and paper manufacturing) to nominal GDP for each year from 2010 to 2020.
|Year||Forestry and logging||Wood product manufacturing||Pulp and paper manufacturing|
Table showing the percentage of real GDP growth for the total of all industries and for the forest sector for each year between 2010 and 2020.
|Year||Total all industries||Total forest industry|
Production of forest products
Production of Canadian forest products, 2010–2020
Graph 1: The production of Canadian newsprint slowly declined from about 4.6 Mt in 2010, to about 2 Mt in 2020. Production of printing and writing paper also decreased from about 4.0 Mt in 2010 to about 2.3 Mt in 2020. Wood pulp production volume had some mild variability between 2010 and 2020, but overall showed a decreasing trend from about 18.5 Mt in 2010 to 14.0 Mt in 2020.
Graph 2: Softwood lumber production increased between 2010 and 2017, from about 52.0 to 65.0 million cubic metres (m3). From 2018 to 2020, production volumes decreased from 64.0 to 54.0 million m3. Structural wood panel production consistently increased from 2010 to 2018, going from 6.0 million m3 to over 9.0 million m3. Panel production decreased in 2019 and 2020, to about 8.5 million m3 and 8.3 million m3, respectively.
Table showing the production volume, in millions of tonnes, of newsprint, printing and writing paper, and wood pulp for each year from 2010 to 2020.
|Year||Newsprint||Printing and writing paper||Wood pulp|
Table showing the production volume, in millions of cubic metres, of softwood lumber and structural wood panels for each year from 2010 to 2020.
|Year||Softwood lumber||Structural wood panels|
Exports of forest products
Exports of Canadian forest products, 2010–2020
This graph shows the value of forest product exports in billions of dollars for each year from 2010 to 2020 in total and for six product categories: softwood lumber, newsprint, printing and writing paper, structural wood panels, wood pulp and other forest products.
Overall, forest product exports increased from $25.9 billion in 2010, to $38.4 in 2018, then declined in 2019 and 2020, to $33.2 billion and 33.3 billion, respectively.
Softwood lumber exports increased from $4.8 billion in 2010, to $10.4 billion in 2017. After 2017, softwood lumber exports decreased to $8.0 billion in 2019 but then returned to $10 billion in 2020.
Exports of newsprint declined from $2.7 billion in 2010 to $1.3 billion in 2020.
Exports of printing and writing paper declined from $2.8 billion in 2010 to $2 billion in 2020.
Exports of structural wood panels increased from $0.9 billion in 2010 to $2.9 billion in 2020.
Exports of wood pulp increased from $7.3 billion in 2010 to $9.7 billion in 2018. Wood pulp exports have declined since 2018 to $6.7 billion in 2020.
Exports of other forest products increased from $7.4 billion in 2010 to $10.9 billion in 2019, but then declined to $10.4 billion in 2020.
Table showing the export value, in billions of dollars, of softwood lumber, newsprint, printing and writing paper, structural wood panels, wood pulp and other forest products for each year from 2010 to 2020.
|Year||Softwood lumber||Newsprint||Printing and writing paper||Structural wood panels||Wood pulp||Other forest products|
Sources and information
See Sources and information in the downloadable report for detailed sources.
- Date modified: