Sustainability of Canada’s Forests

Canada is a world leader in sustainable forest management. Using wood is good – it is a carbon-positive, renewable resource – and it is almost impossible to go a single day without using wood products in some form. To celebrate and support Canada’s forests, we have a few facts to share…

93% of Canada’s forests are publicly owned. This provides assurance that companies operating on these lands are bound by:

  • Comprehensive legislation and enforcement
  • 20-25 year forest management plans
  • Rolling 5 year development plans and site-specific annual operational plans
  • Forest management plans subject to public review
  • Deforestation rate in Canada is almost zero (0.02%)
  • Has close to 90% of the original forest cover, with a thriving forest products industry
  • More than 31 million hectares of protected forests
  • Less than 1% is harvested annually (including in the boreal forest)
  • More than 75% of the protected forest and other wooded land are considered strictly protected where no logging or extraction is allowed
  • By law, all harvested areas must be replanted
  • Although 85% of regeneration occurs naturally, 500,000,000 trees are planted annually

Canada’s deforestation rate is among the lowest in the world.

The annual deforestation rate in Canada is around 0.02% and that number has been declining over the last 25 years. Today, Canada’s 348 million hectares of forest lands represent about 9% of the world’s forest cover, but account for only 0.3% of global deforestation.

Harvesting trees does not cause deforestation.

Deforestation only occurs when forests are permanently removed so the land can be developed for another use. Planned harvesting, forest fires, and insect infestations do not contribute to deforestation, since the affected areas will grow back. According to the laws and regulations all areas harvested on public land must be reforested, either by replanting or through natural regeneration. About 94% of Canada’s forests are on public land. Forest harvesting practices in Canada are tightly regulated to ensure long-term sustainability of this important natural resource.

Canada responsibly manages our boreal forests to ensure they remain healthy.

Almost three-quarters of Canada’s forests lie in the boreal zone. The 2.5 million Canadians who live in this region rely heavily on the forests for economic stability. Canada works to balance conservation objectives with economic drivers like agriculture and resource development.

Canada is a world leader in sustainable forest management.

Canada has some of the most rigorous laws in the world for protecting forests and ensuring sustainable forest management. We are world leaders in scientific research that informs planning and management practices.

Media reports have equated forest cover loss from forest fires, harvesting, and insects to deforestation, which is incorrect. The small amount of deforestation that occurs in Canada is primarily driven by resource development, economic growth, and the need to build infrastructure. To manage these pressures, provincial governments are increasingly using integrated landscape management (ILM) to plan the land uses over a broad landscape and encourage different users to share infrastructure and minimize deforestation.

Canada has reduced deforestation over the past 20 years.

Canada is fortunate to be rich in many natural resources, such as trees, water, oil, and gas. While resource development and industrial activity have increased deforestation in localized regions, nationwide Canada has been able to consistently reduce deforestation over the past 20 years – a trend that is expected to continue.

Information provided from Natural Resources Canada