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How is the forest sector changing?

The forest sector is adapting to changing global markets and consumer preferences. While demand for many traditional forest products is strong, there is increasing interest in non-traditional forest products, such as biofuels, paper packaging and compostable bioplastics. The market for these innovative, sustainable and environmentally friendly products is growing in Canada and across the world. Canada’s forest sector is seizing this opportunity to advance our transition to a low-carbon economy.

Key sustainability indicators

Explore the report to find information on the key sustainability indicators:

  • Forest sector financial performance: Annual financial performance of Canada’s forest sector. Monitoring the financial performance of the forest sector indicates whether Canada’s forest sector can attract investment and continue generating economic benefits for Canadians.
  • Forest sector secondary manufacturing: Annual gross domestic product (GDP) for primary and secondary wood and paper product subsectors. This indicator provides information on additional employment and revenue for the forest sector, providing a better idea of the forest sector’s overall contribution to the Canadian economy.
  • Forest sector carbon emissions: Annual trends in fossil fuel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and total energy use. Monitoring emissions and energy use provides data on how the forest sector can become more sustainable and provide climate solutions.
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Forest sector financial performance

Financial performance by Canada’s forest sector, 2010–2020

Graph summary

In 2010, Canada’s forest sector had a profit of over $2.0 billion. This profit dropped to about $1.0 billion in 2011 and 2012. Operating profits then climbed steadily from about $2.5 billion in 2013, to just over $7.5 billion in 2018. Operating profits dropped to $2.7 billion in 2019 but rebounded to just over $7.5 billion in 2020.

The forest sector’s return on capital employed was 5.6% in 2010 and 1.9% in 2011. The percentage return on capital employed then increased each year, from 4.8% in 2012 to 11.5% in 2018. In 2019 and 2020, the forest sector’s return on capital employed dropped to 4.4% and 4.6%, respectively.

Graph data

Table showing the operating profit, in millions of dollars, and the percentage return on capital employed of Canada’s forest secor for each year from 2010 to 2020.

Year Operating profits Return on capital employed
2010 2,182 5.6
2011 1,074 1.9
2012 1,082 4.8
2013 2,633 4.9
2014 2,811 5.4
2015 3,508 5.7
2016 5,121 8.6
2017 6,816 9.8
2018 7,698 11.5
2019 2,743 4.4
2020 7,702 4.6

Forest sector secondary manufacturing

Gross domestic product from primary and secondary wood and paper product subsectors, 2010–2020

Graph summary

This graph shows the GDP, in billions of dollars, of primary and secondary wood product subsectors and of primary and secondary paper product subsectors.

The GDP of the primary wood product subsector was about $4.4 billion in 2010 and steadily increased to $6.0 billion in 2018. Since then, the GDP of the primary wood product subsector has been $5.1 billion.

Since 2010, the GDP of the secondary wood product subsector has remained steady between $2.6 billion and $3.1 billion.

The GDP of the primary paper product subsector was $5.2 billion in 2010 and steadily declined to $3.9 billion in 2013. From 2014 to 2016, it was steady at about $4.7 billion, but has since decreased from $4.4 billion in 2017 to $3.7 billion in 2020.

The GDP of the secondary paper product subsector was steady from 2010 to 2018 at around $3.0 billion. In 2019, it dropped to $2.6 billion but returned to $3 billion in 2020.

Graph data

Table showing the gross domestic product, in billions of dollars, for primary and secondary wood product subsectors as well as for primary and secondary paper product subsectors for each year from 2010 to 2020.

Year Primary wood Secondary wood Primary paper Secondary paper
2010 4.4 2.6 5.2 3.0
2011 4.4 2.7 5.0 2.9
2012 4.6 2.8 4.4 3.1
2013 5.1 2.9 3.9 3.2
2014 5.4 2.7 4.7 2.9
2015 5.6 2.8 4.8 3.1
2016 6.0 2.9 4.7 2.9
2017 6.0 2.8 4.4 3.0
2018 6.0 2.8 4.4 2.9
2019 5.1 3.1 4.1 2.6
2020 5.1 2.9 3.7 3.0

Forest sector carbon emissions

Fossil fuel greenhouse gas emissions and total energy use in Canada’s forest sector, 2008–2018

Graph summary

Total energy use in the forest sector steadily decreased from 735 petajoules (PJ) in 2008 to 625 PJ in 2012, increasing until 2015 when it reached 671 PJ. In 2016 and 2017, the forest sector used 637 PJ and 650 PJ of energy, respectively. In 2018, 664 PJ of energy was used by the forest sector.

The forest sector’s GHG emissions decreased from 18.8 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalen (Mt CO2e) in 2008 to 13.5 Mt CO2e in 2012. After an increase to 14.2 Mt CO2e in 2013, the sector’s emissions have remained steady between 12.9 and 13.6 Mt CO2e per year, including in 2018 when 13.5 Mt CO2e were emitted.

Graph data

Table showing 1) the annual total energy use, in petajoules, of the forest sector and 2) the forest sector’s GHG emissions, in millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, from fossil fuels for each year from 2008 to 2018.

Year Total energy use GHG emissions
2008 735 18.8
2009 674 16.3
2010 655 15.7
2011 640 14.2
2012 625 13.5
2013 657 14.1
2014 668 13.4
2015 671 13.5
2016 631 12.9
2017 648 13.6
2018 664 13.5
Sources and information

See Sources and information in the downloadable report for detailed sources.

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