Does Canada take care of its forests? Is Canadian lumber sustainable? How does forestry contribute to Canada’s economy? These are all excellent questions about Canadian forestry we can answer by digging into the facts.
Home to about 9% of the world’s total forest cover, Canada is incredibly blessed with huge areas of forest. As a matter of fact, about 40% of Canada’s land base is covered by forests; these beautiful regions have become an inherent part of Canadian identity for millions of people from coast-to-coast.
With so much forested land, Canada has a huge responsibility to manage its resources accordingly. Part of that task includes sharing answers to frequently asked questions about Canadian forestry and debunking the myths surrounding our world-class forests.
So, here are some common questions and answers many people have about Canadian forests. To learn more about Canada’s forestry sector, also see:
- Canadian Forestry Infographic: Facts & Figures
- 10+ Canadian Forestry Myths Debunked
- Forestry in Canada: 65+ Facts
Q: Why are Canadian forests so important?
A - Canada’s forests are incredibly important to Canadians for several reasons:
#1 – The forest sector is a significant contributor to the economy. As an $80 billion industry – accounting for 12% of Canada’s manufacturing GDP – and directly and indirectly employing 830,000 Canadians across the country, it’s not hard to see why Canadian forests are so crucial to the country .
#2 – The forestry sector operates in 600 communities from coast to coast, where it often plays a dominant role in the economy. Forests define not only Canadian geography but also our identity and lifestyle for outdoor leisure, recreation and living, with over 23 million people living in or near forests in Canada .
#3 – Forests overwhelmingly support rural Indigenous communities, with over 1.3 million Indigenous peoples in Canada living in or near forests. Canadian forestry employs approximately 11,600 Indigenous workers, making it one of the largest Indigenous employers in the country .
Q: Is the Canadian forestry industry sustainable?
A - Yes. Despite what logging protestors tell you, Canadian forestry is sustainable, exemplified by the following facts :
> Canada is a global leader in third-party forest certification, sustainably managing 36% of the world’s certified forest – nearly 3x more than any other nation
> Every year, Canadian forestry companies harvest less than 1% of available softwood and are required by law to replant every single tree – amounting to anywhere from 400 to 600 million seeds being planted each year
> Since the early 1990s, Canada’s forest sector has reduced its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by nearly 70%
Q: How does Canada manage its forests?
A - Canada has strict laws surrounding the conservation and protection of its forests and has world-class performance in sustainable management practices .
Forest conservation efforts in Canada require forestry companies to follow specific guidelines, such as:
- Avoid cutting down trees used by wildlife
- Harvest a variety of tree species by type and age
- Ensure that sections of forested land remain connected to maintain wildlife habitats
Forest protection efforts in Canada often involve creating parks and other protected areas to prevent harvesting while preserving healthy ecosystems. Examples include:
- Protecting marine environments
- Establishment of new national parks and historic sites
- Creation of networks of protected areas to enable wildlife migration
Canada manages its forests accordingly through several mechanisms that allow it to conserve, protect, harvest and enjoy all aspects of forested lands.
Q: What are the biggest threats to Canadian forests?
A - Deforestation is not a threat to Canadian forests, as many anti-forestry protestors would have you believe. The biggest dangers to Canada’s forests are wildfires, diseases and insect outbreaks, which affect an average of 17.6 million hectares of forested land each year, while just 0.7 million hectares are harvested .
Pests -> Insect pests and diseases pose a significant threat not just to Canadian forests but also to those globally. In Canada, the tent caterpillar, gypsy moth and spruce budworm in the east, and the pink bark beetle and mountain pine beetle in the west, cause damage to forests every year.
Diseases -> Like insects, diseases can cause undesirable economic, social and ecological outcomes in Canadian forests while also playing a critical role in driving forest community structure, decomposition, nutrient cycling and the carbon cycle of forested ecosystems. For example, beech leaf and European larch canker are two diseases currently affecting Canadian forests.
Fires -> Fires are a natural part of forested ecosystems and help maintain the health and diversity of forests. However – like diseases – they can also create costly economic and environmental losses, as well as public health and safety concerns.
Q: What % of Canadian forests are protected from economic development?
A - Canadian forests are conserved and protected through a series of federal, provincial and municipal regulations that ensure their longevity.
Today, 94% of Canada’s forests are on publicly owned land, which is why all jurisdictions come together to create and enforce the laws, regulations and policies required to meet Canada’s world-class commitment to sustainable forest management .
With the federal government owning just 6% of Canada’s forest lands, the provinces and territories have many responsibilities and powers to ensure sustainability practices are followed including (but not limited to):
> Create and enforce forest laws
> Set up licensing or timber supply agreements with forest companies who want to harvest softwood on publicly owned lands
> Monitor activities of forest companies to ensure they are following the sustainability laws and environmental protections laid out for them by the government
> Collect royalties from forest companies for the public purse
> Manage designated protected areas and parks
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Canada’s forestry sector is world-class in sustainable forest management and wildlife protection. Let’s recognize that fact!
Learn more about Canadian natural resources and why our country should be a go-to supplier of choice for the energy, agricultural, forestry, aquaculture and mining products the world needs by joining us online at:
Since the early 1990s, Canada’s forest sector has reduced its GHG emissions by 66%. Today, nearly 60% of our mills run on renewable and sustainable sources of bioenergy. #ForestryForTheFuture pic.twitter.com/DRgOf6nRwm— FPAC (@FPAC_APFC) September 7, 2022
1 – Natural Resources Canada – The State of Canada’s Forests 2021, Date Accessed: September 2022 (https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/sites/nrcan/files/forest/sof2021/6317_NRCan_SoF_AR_2021_EN_P7B_web_accessible.pdf)
2 – Forest Products Association of Canada – Economy & Trade, Date Accessed: September 2022 (https://www.fpac.ca/areas/economy-trade)
3 – Forest Products Association of Canada – Communities & indigenous Partnerships, Date Accessed: September 2022 (https://www.fpac.ca/areas/communities-indigenous-partnerships)
4 – Forest Products Association of Canada – Environment & Sustainability, Date Accessed: September 2022 (https://www.fpac.ca/areas/environment-sustainability)
5 – Natural Resources Canada – Conservation and protection of Canada’s forests, Date Accessed: September 2022 (https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/our-natural-resources/forests/sustainable-forest-management/conservation-and-protection-canadas-forests/17501)
6 – Natural Resources Canada – How does disturbance shape Canada’s forests?, Date Accessed: September 2022 (https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/our-natural-resources/forests/state-canadas-forests-report/disturbance-canadas-forests/16502)
7 – Natural Resources Canada – Forest land ownership, Date Accessed: (https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/our-natural-resources/forests/sustainable-forest-management/forest-land-ownership/17495)
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