How much forest does Canada have?
With almost 362 million hectares (ha) of forest, Canada has 9% of the world’s forests. The estimate of Canada’s forest area is new this year and is based on improvements and updates to data sources and forest inventory techniques over the last 10 years. Differences from previously reported values are mainly attributed to these improvements. Naturally occurring and human-induced change to the amount of forest area is also included. The forest area of Canada is relatively stable, with less than 0.5% deforested since 1990.
Forests dominate many Canadian landscapes, but cover only 40% of Canada’s land base (excludes inland and coastal waters). Depending on where you live in Canada, forests may cover over 80% of your region, such as in the Atlantic Maritime ecozone or only 3% of the Prairies.
Key sustainability indicators
Explore the report to find information on the key sustainability indicators:
- Forest area: Long-term trends in forest area across Canada. A relatively stable forest area is an important indication that forests are being managed sustainably and are, therefore, a stable provider of resources, biodiversity and diverse environmental services.
- Deforestation and afforestation: Estimated area of annual deforestation in Canada by industrial sectors. Low deforestation supports high levels of biodiversity and maintains the quality of soil, air and water.
- Wood volume: Long-term trends in estimated volume of wood in forests. Wood volume estimates provide information on forest productivity, available carbon storage, forest fire fuel predictions, and harvest level forecasts.
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Canada’s estimated forest area, 1990–2020
This graph shows that Canada’s forest area is stable. Between 1990 and 2020, the estimated total forest area declined from 363.224 million hectares (ha) to 361.785 million ha, a net change of about 1% over 30 years. Updated data sources, remote sensing techniques and improved forest inventories over the last 10 years have enhanced our estimates of forest area in Canada.
Table showing Canada’s estimated forest area, in millions of hectares, for each year from 1990 to 2020.
|Year||Estimated forest area|
Deforestation and afforestation
Estimated area (hectares) of annual deforestation in Canada, by industrial sector, 1990–2019
The annual estimated area of deforestation in Canada has declined steadily from about 64,000 hectares (ha) in 1990, to about 49,000 ha in 2019. Two spikes in the overall declining trend occurred in 1993 and 2006, when an estimated 86,000 ha and 76,000 ha, respectively, were deforested because of hydroelectric development. Overall, the conversion of forest to agricultural land uses has declined from about 42,000 ha/year in 1990 to about 22,000 ha/year in 2019. The conversion of forest to mining, oil and gas land uses has increased from about 7,200 ha/year in 1990 to 15,000 ha/year in 2019. Forest loss caused by the creation of permanent forestry roads has declined from an estimated 3,700 ha/year in 1990 to 1,000 ha/year. The conversion of forest to built-up land uses has remained stable, with losses ranging between 6,900 ha/year and 9,700 ha/year between 1990 and 2019.
Table showing the estimated area of annual deforestation in Canada, by industrial sector, in hectares per year, from 1990 to 2019.
|Year||Agriculture||Forestry||Mining, oil and gas||Built-up land||Hydroelectric||Total|
Estimated wood volume (million cubic metres) in Canada
Sources and information
See Sources and information in the downloadable report for detailed sources.
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