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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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Forest area

Canada’s estimated forest area, 1990–2020

Graph summary

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.

Graph data

Table showing Canada’s estimated forest area, in millions of hectares, for each year from 1990 to 2020.

Year Estimated forest area
1990 363.224
1991 363.170
1992 363.115
1993 363.065
1994 362.988
1995 362.949
1996 362.914
1997 362.877
1998 362.840
1999 362.799
2000 362.753
2001 362.714
2002 362.675
2003 362.624
2004 362.575
2005 362.527
2006 362.482
2007 362.407
2008 362.360
2009 362.313
2010 362.272
2011 362.232
2012 362.191
2013 362.148
2014 362.096
2015 362.040
2016 361.987
2017 361.934
2018 361.883
2019 361.834
2020 361.785

Deforestation and afforestation

Estimated area (hectares) of annual deforestation in Canada, by industrial sector, 1990–2019

Graph summary

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.

Graph data

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
1990 42,105 3,682 7,240 7,413 3,598 64,038
1991 38,140 3,600 7,207 7,239 6,402 62,587
1992 34,175 3,517 7,818 7,129 5,400 58,040
1993 30,210 3,435 7,916 7,046 37,323 85,930
1994 26,246 3,352 8,009 6,968 2,374 46,949
1995 22,281 3,270 8,100 6,961 1,493 42,104
1996 21,933 3,334 8,737 7,446 1,695 43,145
1997 21,586 3,398 9,096 7,450 2,014 43,544
1998 21,239 3,463 10,501 7,678 4,597 47,477
1999 20,891 3,527 11,059 8,310 6,646 50,433
2000 20,544 3,591 10,843 8,788 883 44,650
2001 20,196 3,655 10,709 9,089 882 44,532
2002 19,849 3,720 13,348 8,624 9,746 55,287
2003 19,502 3,784 13,543 8,937 3,061 48,826
2004 19,154 3,848 14,034 9,386 4,073 50,496
2005 17,982 3,453 14,693 9,092 4,035 49,256
2006 16,842 3,061 17,314 9,133 29,479 75,828
2007 15,702 2,670 17,379 8,736 3,719 48,206
2008 14,562 2,278 16,460 8,315 6,810 48,426
2009 13,422 1,886 13,976 8,182 5,072 42,539
2010 12,282 1,494 14,362 7,845 5,112 41,095
2011 14,301 1,411 15,886 8,062 2,850 42,510
2012 16,320 1,328 14,863 8,287 3,249 44,048
2013 18,340 1,245 15,457 8,957 9,455 53,454
2014 20,359 1,161 14,877 9,294 11,084 56,776
2015 22,378 1,078 15,193 9,747 6,319 54,716
2016 22,378 1,078 15,485 9,620 4,986 53,548
2017 22,378 1,078 15,411 9,549 2,394 50,811
2018 22,378 1,078 15,399 9,542 957 49,354
2019 22,378 1,078 15,115 9,518 957 49,046

Wood volume

Estimated wood volume (million cubic metres) in Canada

Year 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Wood volume 53,488 53,408 52,931 51,175 50,563 50,145 50,096 49,900 49,622 49,505
Sources and information

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

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