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Indicator: Volume harvested relative to the sustainable wood supply

In 2018, Canada harvested 156.2 million cubic metres (m3) of industrial roundwood, well below the estimated sustainable wood supply level of 217.9 million m3.

  • This is an increase of 2.0 million m3 from 2017 levels, when 154.2 million m3 of industrial roundwood was harvested. At the same time, the estimated wood supply deemed to be sustainable declined by 1.4 million m3.
  • Because the sustainable wood supply declined as harvest increased, the gap between them narrowed compared to 2017.
  • The increase in harvest is attributable to a large increase in the volume of softwood timber harvested in British Columbia offset by smaller declines in Ontario and Alberta.

Sustainable wood supply refers to the volume of timber that can be harvested annually from federal, provincial, territorial and private lands while meeting environmental, economic and social objectives.

Annual harvest versus supply deemed sustainable for harvest, 1990 to 2018

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Graph summary

The total wood supply deemed sustainable for harvest has decreased slowly from 248 million cubic metres (m3) in 1990 to 218 million m3 in 2018. The total harvest was highest in 2004, at 208 million m3; however, it declined steeply between 2004 and 2009, to a low of 116 million m3 in 2009. The total harvest has gradually increased each year since 2009, with 156 million m3 harvested in 2018; well below the 218 million m3 deemed sustainable for harvest.

The softwood supply deemed sustainable for harvest was 180 million m3 in 1990. It was highest in 2007, at 190 million m3. Since then, supply has decreased to 160 million m3 in 2018. Between 1990 and 2003, softwood harvest ranged between 139 million m3 and 163 million m3. In 2004, the softwood harvest peaked at 168 million m3 and then steeply decreased to a low of 94 million m3 in 2009. Between 2009 and 2018, the volume harvested gradually increased to 128 million m3.

The hardwood supply deemed sustainable for harvest has been stable at about 60 million m3 since 1990. Hardwood harvest was lowest in 1990 at 15 million m3 and highest in 2004 at 40 million m3. In 2018, 28 million m3 of hardwood was harvested.

Graph data
Table showing the annual volume of softwood and hardwood harvested, and the total harvest, as well as the supply deemed sustainable for harvest (for all land types—provincial, territorial, federal and private), in millions of cubic metres, for each year, from 1990 to 2018.
Year Total wood supply Total harvest Softwood supply Softwood harvest Hardwood supply Hardwood harvest
1990 247.7 156.4 180.3 141.2 63.6 15.2
1991 246.0 154.2 180.4 138.5 61.8 15.7
1992 241.2 163.7 176.9 146.8 60.4 16.9
1993 238.0 169.6 174.6 150.5 59.5 19.1
1994 238.1 177.4 174.0 154.2 60.3 23.2
1995 234.1 183.2 170.9 157.4 59.3 25.7
1996 234.6 177.9 170.7 151.3 60.1 26.6
1997 237.1 183.6 172.1 153.8 61.2 29.8
1998 234.9 173.9 170.7 142.8 61.6 31.1
1999 239.4 196.7 174.7 162.8 61.9 33.9
2000 234.5 199.5 172.7 163.3 60.6 36.2
2001 237.0 184.4 176.0 149.9 60.8 34.5
2002 238.3 195.4 177.1 159.6 61.2 35.7
2003 239.9 181.4 178.1 143.8 61.7 37.6
2004 247.2 208.1 185.2 168.5 61.8 39.6
2005 244.7 201.3 182.1 165.2 62.5 36.1
2006 247.3 182.5 185.4 148.7 61.7 33.7
2007 251.5 162.1 189.6 134.6 61.9 27.3
2008 250.2 138.3 189.5 114.2 60.6 23.9
2009 240.9 115.8 181.6 94.3 59.2 21.4
2010 236.8 141.0 178.8 117.4 57.8 23.5
2011 231.8 146.7 174.5 120.9 57.1 25.8
2012 229.8 149.2 173.2 124.6 56.4 24.6
2013 227.2 151.0 171.4 126.0 55.7 25.1
2014 229.7 150.3 171.6 124.7 58.1 25.5
2015 228.0 155.4 169.7 128.1 58.3 27.2
2016 223.0 155.3 164.0 128.0 59.0 27.4
2017 219.2 154.2 161.2 126.0 58.1 28.2
2018 217.9 156.2 159.5 128.3 58.4 27.9

Why is this indicator important?

  • Forest managers track the volume of industrial roundwood harvested each year to ensure it falls within sustainable levels.
  • Harvests from provincial Crown lands are regulated by allowable annual cuts (AAC). Although there is no AAC calculation for Canada as a whole, it is possible to compare the combined provincial AACs with the combined harvest totals from the same provincial Crown land base.

What is the outlook?

  • Harvest levels are expected to remain below the sustainable wood supply, given the strong provincial and territorial regulatory regimes in place.
  • Sustainable wood supply will continue to decline over the next several years as AACs in British Columbia are reduced in response to the impact of the mountain pine beetle and severe wildfires, further narrowing the gap between harvest and wood supply.

What reporting frameworks does this indicator support?

Sources and information
  • National Forestry Database. Wood supply, Table 2.1 Wood supply estimates by tenure and species group. (April 20, 2020).
    • Wood supply includes allowable annual cuts for provincial Crown lands and potential harvests for federal and private lands.
    • The discrepancy between the “total industrial roundwood” supply volumes and the sum of the “total industrial softwoods” and “total industrial hardwoods” supply volumes is due to a very small amount of harvest categorized as “unspecified.” This supply represents some of the federal wood supply that has not been differentiated between “softwood” and “hardwood.”
  • National Forestry Database. Harvest, Table 5.1 Net merchantable volume of roundwood harvested by jurisdiction, tenure, category and species group. (accessed April 20, 2020).
    • Harvests include industrial roundwood only and exclude fuel wood and firewood.
    • The discrepancy between the harvested volumes of “total industrial roundwood” and the sum of the “total industrial softwoods” and “total industrial hardwoods” is due to a very small amount of harvest categorized as “unspecified.” Typically, this harvest occurs in mixedwood forests where neither softwood or hardwood categories strictly apply, and it accounts for less than 1% of the harvested volume of total industrial roundwood. More information on these data can be found at the National Forestry Database.

 

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

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