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Canadian Forests Facts & Figures:

They won't mind if you call them treehuggers -- the United Nations has proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of Forests. The goal is to raise public awareness about the importance of conservation, sustainable forest management and development.

Sustainable forestry management is of critical importance to the health of the Canadian environment and the economy. According to The State of Canada's Forests - 2010 Annual Report, "The key to meeting the forest industry's challenges is diversification--of both markets and products."

Canada has 10% of the world's forests, covering 397.3 million hectares, or almost half the country's land mass. Canada's boreal forest is one of the largest intact forests in the world, covering 6 million square kilometres and representing 30% of the world's boreal forest. Boreal forests are predominantly made up of coniferous trees, lichen, mosses and bushes.

Forests play a significant role in the Canadian economy, providing more than 400,000 jobs and contributing 1.7% to our gross domestic product (GDP) in 2010. Meanwhile, Canada is also the world's largest exporter of forest products. The US is our biggest customer, purchasing 70.6% of Canadian forest products in 2009.

The global importance of forests

  • According to the United Nations:
  • Forests are home to 80% of the planet's terrestrial biodiversity
  • Forests cover 31% of total land area
  • Primary forests (undisturbed by human activities containing native species of trees) account for 36% of forest area
  • More than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihood
  • Global trade in forest products is estimated at $ 327 billion (2004)
  • Forests are home to 300 million people
  • 30% of forests are used for production of wood and non-timber products

The State of Canada's Forests

According to The State of Canada's Forests - 2010 Annual Report:

  • 93% of Canada's forests are publicly owned
  • 77% under provincial or territorial jurisdiction
  • 16% under federal control
  • 7% is privately owned by 450,000 landowners
  • 8% of Canada's forest area is protected by legislation
  • Less than 1% of Canada's forests are harvested annually
  • There is a legal requirement that forests harvested on Canada's public land must be successfully regenerated
  • 72% are regenerated through tree plantings and seeding
  • 28% are regenerated naturally
  • 142.8 million hectares of Canada's forests were certified as being sustainably managed in 2009
  • Forestry makes up at least 50% of the economic base of 200 communities
  • Employment in the forestry sector dropped 13% from 2008 to 2009
  • Bioenergy (energy created by utilizing waste forest products) makes up more than 60% of the total energy used by the forest industry

Canada's Forestry by the numbers (2008):

  • Area planted (hectares) 447,195
  • Area seeded (hectares) 34,602
  • Fire - all area burned (hectares) 755,405
  • Fires - number 7,167
  • Forest area certified (hectares) 172,782,131
  • Harvest area (hectares) 678,735
  • Harvest volume (cubic metres) 136,967,000

The Climate Connection

Forests help reduce the impact of climate change by storing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. As the Canadian climate changes, it can also have a dramatic impact on forest health.

  • The value of the carbon stored by Canada boreal forest $849.2 billion
  • Area defoliated by insects and beetle-killed trees in 2008 attributed to changing climate (double the area harvested during 2008) 13,733,728 hectares
  • Carbon dioxide equivalent (C02e) emissions due to deforestation 15.0 megatonnes
  • Deforestation - forest area 45.6 kilohectares
  • CO2e removal from the atmosphere due to afforestation - 0.8 megatonnes
  • Net carbon sequestered (co2e/yr) -17.4 megatonnes

SIDEBAR: The Economic Value of Forests

The Canadian forestry is a key player in the Canadian economy:

  • Christmas tree production (domestic) $37,507,000
  • Maple production $263,216,000
  • Total non-timber production (including tree saps, mushrooms, berries, honey) $725,000,000


  • Primary wood products $680,792,000
  • Pulp and paper products $16,118,391,000
  • Wood fabricated materials $6,729,268,000
  • Total value of domestic exports $23,528,451,000
  • Total contribution to Canadian economy $36,800,000,000
  • New capital investment in forestry industry $3,100,000,000
  • Forests also have significant value that isn't measured in GDP or jobs.

Healthy forests:

  • Decrease water treatment costs
  • Decrease illness and health care costs due to improved air and water quality
  • Decrease heating and air conditioning costs
  • Increase property values
  • Increase tourism revenues

What Consumers Can Do

The consumer can play a significant role in ensuring that Canada's forestry resources are managed sustainably:

  • Buy wood and paper products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Look for the FSC logo (for more information, check out www.fsccanada.org)
  • Buy paper products that have a high post-consumer recycled content
  • Buy paper alternatives such as hemp products
  • Recycle all paper and cardboard
  • Think before you print - only print what's necessary, and print double-sided
  • Plant a tree (or two)


Extpub | by Dr. Radut