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Indicator: Forest area harvested

Monitoring the area of forest harvested each year ensures that the level of industrial activity in Canada’s forests is sustainable over the long term. In 2018, an estimated 748,000 hectares (ha) of forest were harvested. This is a 3.9% decrease from 2017 levels, when 778,000 ha were harvested, and well below the average area harvested each year during the peak period of 1995 to 2005 (1 million ha).

The decline is largely due to a decrease in the area of provincial Crown forests harvested in British Columbia as forestry operations throughout the province were curtailed because of severe wildfires.

The area of forests harvested each year is less than half of 1% of Canada’s 347 million ha of forest land, significantly smaller than the areas affected by insects and burned by fires each year.

Forest area harvested on private and Crown lands in Canada, 2008 to 2018


Graph summary

In Canada, the proportion of forest area harvested on Crown lands compared to private lands remained stable from 2008 to 2018. About 90% of the forest area harvested was from Crown land, while the remaining 10% came from private land. The total area harvested has ranged from a low of about 640,000 hectares (ha) in 2009, to a high of about 820,000 ha harvested in 2015. The area harvested has decreased each year since 2015, to about 750,000 ha harvested in 2018.

Graph data
Table showing the area harvested on private and Crown lands, in hectares, for each year from 2008 to 2018.
Year Provincial and territorial Crown land Private land
2008 628,723 89,574
2009 565,668 75,706
2010 649,314 76,067
2011 647,082 61,337
2012 679,446 59,517
2013 701,957 73,184
2014 675,907 73,693
2015 739,631 75,722
2016 706,961 75,551
2017 704,824 72,823
2018 673,177 74,010

Why is this indicator important?

  • Commercial timber harvesting is one of several indicators of the level of industrial activity in the forest sector.
  • Harvesting of provincial Crown forests, the source of most commercial timber, is regulated to provide a sustainable level of timber for industrial use.

What is the outlook?

  • The area harvested each year will vary as forest managers adjust their management objectives in response to natural disturbances such as pests and forest fires and as the demand for Canadian forest products changes.
  • Overall, demand for Canadian forest products was expected to remain strong in 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has created some market uncertainty. Demand for Canadian forest products will depend on how quickly North American and global economies recover following the COVID-19 pandemic.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

  • Montréal Process: 3.b
Sources and information
  • National Forestry Database. Harvest, Table 5.2 Area harvested by jurisdiction, tenure, management and harvesting method. (accessed June 3, 2020).
    • Data include provincial and territorial Crown and private forest land subject to even-aged management (clearcutting), uneven-aged management (selection cutting), and commercial thinning harvest methods.
    • The graph does not display federal lands because their small area cannot be represented at the given scale.
    • Natural Resources Canada–Canadian Forest Service has estimated the area harvested in Quebec, and included this value in reporting the national area harvested.


Table of contents — The State of Canada's Forests Report

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