Forestry Sector in Canada: 65+ Facts

canada global top 10 forest product exporter

Canada's forest industry is an important part of our nation's prosperity, creating jobs and economic opportunities in communities across the country. In 2019, for example, the sector employed nearly 302,500 people while generating $23.7 billion of economic activity and more than $10.8 billion in wages and salaries for workers from coast-to-coast.

But Canada's forests are so much more than just an economic boon we are blessed to have. Over 23 million people live in or near forests in Canada, and for many of us, these beautiful landscapes are a core part of our Canadian identity as we live, work and play in them year-round.

We've compiled a list of facts on our forestry sector which should give you some insight into just how important our forests are to many Canadians across the country. Also see:

65+ Forestry Sector Facts in Canada

forestry sector facts canada employment 2019

National Forestry Facts

#1- Canada is home to 9% of the world's forests

#2 - Forests cover roughly 347 million hectares of land in Canada, or roughly 38% its territory

#3 - About 270 million hectares, or 78%, of Canada's forests are located in the boreal zone

#4 - Over 23 million people live in or near forests in Canada (about two-thirds of the total population)

#5 - About 1.1 million (70%) of Indigenous Peoples in Canada live in or near forests

#6 - Over 90% of Canada's forests are found on publicly owned land

#7 - Canada's forests contain an estimated 45 billion cubic metres of wood

#8 - Canada's boreal wetlands represent nearly 20% of the world's wetlands

#9 - In 2018, the forest industry directly employed 204,555 people and accounted for 1.1% of total employment in Canada

#10 - 17% of forestry sector workers are women and about 12% are immigrants (2018)

#11 - Roughly 12,000 Indigenous Peoples worked in the industry in 2016, representing 7% of the sector's total workforce

#12 - In 2018, the forest industry directly and indirectly employed 302,489 people across the country, or about 1.6% of total employment in Canada

#13 - The forestry sector was the primary source of economic well-being for 300 communities in Canada in 2019

#14 - About 44% of people in Canada’s forest sector labour force live in rural communities – a higher share than in most other sectors

#15 - Canada’s forestry sector contributed $23.7 billion to Canada’s economy in 2019 (nominal GDP)

Canadian Forest Sector Exports by Major Region (2019)

Forest Sector Exports by Region (2019) - The State of Canada's Forests 2020

#16 - Canada's forest product exports totalled $33.2 billion in 2019

#17 - By value, Canada is the fourth-largest forest product exporter in the world, behind China, the United States, and Germany

#18 - Canada's three largest export destinations are the United States, China and Japan, which represent 87% of all forest product exports

#19 - Canada continues to diversity its forest product markets, exporting to over 180 countries around the world

#20 - More than 2/3rds of Canadian forest products are exported; the U.S. is our largest trading partner, accounting for about 68% of Canada's total forest product exports in 2019

#21 - The forest industry generated about $1.9 billion in revenue for provincial and territorial governments in 2018

#22 - In 2019, the forestry sector generated over $10.8 billion in wages and salaries for workers across Canada

#23 - A conservative estimate of Canada’s existing carbon-absorption capacity, based on land area and the global carbon-absorption average, indicates that our nation could already be absorbing 20% to 30% more carbon dioxide (CO2) than we emit

#24 - In 2014, more than 540 million seedlings were planted nationwide

#25 - In 2016, more than 615 million seedlings were planted on 410,000 hectares in Canada's forests

forest industry facts canada seedlings planted in 2018

#26 - In 2018, at least 427 million seedlings were planted on 350,000 hectares of provincial forest lands in Canada, with an additional 6,000 hectares of new forest established by seeding

#27 - With about 260 million spruce seedlings planted per year, spruces are the most reforested trees in Canada

#28 - In 2019, about 77% of Canada's managed Crown forest land was certified to third-party standards of sustainable forest management

#29 - Nearly 50% of Canada's forests are certified to third-party standards of sustainable forest management

#30 - In 2018, only 0.2% of Canada's forested area was harvested

#31 - Since 1990, less than half of 1% of Canada’s forest lands have been converted to a non-forest land use

#32 - Between 2007 and 2017, the forest sector reduced energy use by 24% and total fossil greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (direct emissions plus indirect emissions from purchased electricity) by 40% -- the forest sector's ability to generate its own electricity, largely from bio-energy, has reduced its reliance on fossil fuels

#33 - In 2025, Canada will launch WildFireSat, the world's first satellite built specifically to monitor wildfires

#34 - Almost 80% of forest industry employment is concentrated in three provinces: Quebec (31%), British Columbia (27%) and Ontario (21%)

#35 - 52% of forest industry jobs are in Ontario and Quebec

#36 - 39% of forest industry jobs are in the prairie provinces and Western Canada (mostly British Columbia)

#37 - 9% of forest industry jobs are in Atlantic Canada

Canadian Forestry Facts by Province

forestry sector facts canada export value 2018

Quebec Forestry Facts

#38 - $10.4 billion – value of forest exports from Quebec (2016)

#39 - 57,778 – direct jobs in Quebec as a result of the forest sector (2016)

#40 - 60,000 – indirect and induced jobs due to activity in Quebec’s forest products sector (2014)

#41 - 31% - percentage of Canada’s forest industry employment found in Quebec (2017)

#42 - $2.5 billion – total worker compensation to forest sector employees (2015)

#43 - 1.6% - percentage of Quebec’s total workforce employed by the forest sector (2017)

#44 - 27.4% - percentage of Canadian forest exports from Quebec to Canada’s top export markets (2017)

Ontario Forestry Facts

#45 - 172,000 – people employed by the forest products sector in Ontario (2017)

#46 - $15.5 billion – economic activity spurred by Ontario’s forest industry (2017)

#47 - 21% - percentage of Canada’s forest industry employment found in Ontario (2017)

#48 - 13.3% - percentage of Canadian forest exports from Ontario to Canada’s top export markets (2017)

#49 - 1/100 – one out of every hundred people in Ontario is employed by the forest industry

British Columbia Forestry Facts

#50 - $14.16 billion – value of forest products exported by B.C. (2017)

#51 - 32% - percentage of B.C.’s total exports that were from forestry (2017)

#52 - 57,000 – people employed in B.C. by the forest industry (2017)

#53 - 7,000 – number of businesses supported by the industry and its activities (2017)

#54 - $992 million – tax revenues attributable to the forest sector (2017)

#55 - 2.3% - percentage of B.C.’s total workforce employed by the forest industry (2017)

Alberta Forestry Facts 

#56 - 9.7% - percentage of Canadian forest exports from Alberta to Canada’s top export markets (2017)

#57 - 4,000 – total number of people employed in Alberta by the forestry sector (2016)

#58 -  0.2% - percentage of total employment in Alberta accounted for by forestry and logging support activities industry (2016)

#59 - 10% - percentage of increase in employment in the forestry sector in Alberta between 2015 and 2016

Atlantic Provinces Forestry Facts

#60 - 600 – number of firms in forestry, logging, wood products, pulp and paper in New Brunswick (2018)

#61 - $1.7 billion – value of forest product exports from New Brunswick (2016)

#62 - 22,000 – rough amount of direct and “spinoff” jobs in New Brunswick created by the forest sector (2016)

#63 - 9% - amount of Canadian forestry jobs found in Atlantic Canada (2017)

#64 - 5.1% - percentage of Canadian forest exports from New Brunswick to Canada’s top export markets (2017)

#65 - 3.5% - percentage of New Brunswick’s total workforce in the forest industry (2017)

#66 - 1.7% - percentage of Canadian forest exports from Nova Scotia to Canada’s top export markets (2017)

#67 - 1 in 14 – jobs in New Brunswick linked to the forestry sector (2016)

*Sources: Natural Resources Canada, Sustainable Forest Management in Canada, Government of Canada, Government of British Columbia, Government of Alberta, Ontario Forest Industries Association, Government of Ontario, Quebec 2018-2019 Budget, Forest NB, Forest Fact Book 2018-2019, The State of Canada's Forests - Annual Report 2020

Forests are Part of Our Identity

I Love Canadian Forestry - Canada Action

Canada's vast forests define our geography and identity. Truth is that forests provide so much more for Canadians than just jobs; they are part of our heritage, and for many Canadians, involved in our daily lives in one way or another.

Whether you rely on the forestry sector as a means to put food on the table, or perhaps just enjoy the plentiful outdoor leisure and recreational opportunities our forested landscapes provide, we should all be proud of our forests and all that they have to offer.

We should also be proud of our forest industry companies and workers who are committed to harvesting wood and other raw materials using only the most environmentally friendly methods, and of our governments who are responsible stewards of our forested environments.

The world needs more Canadian forest products! Learn more about forestry in Canada today.

 

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