Forestry Sector in Canada: 55 Facts

Canadian forestry facts and statistics

Updated April 2023

Canada's forest industry is an important part of our nation's prosperity, creating jobs and economic opportunities in hundreds of communities across the country. In 2021, for example, the sector directly employed nearly 206,000 people while generating $34.8 billion of economic activity and providing an average wage of about $54,500 for workers.

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.

Below we have compiled a list of facts on our forestry sector which should provide insight into how important forests are for many Canadians across the country. Also see

55 Canadian Forestry Sector Facts

Canadian arvested forests must be replanted by law

National Forestry Facts

#1- Canada is home to 9% of the world's forests, with 362 million hectares [1]

#2 - Forests cover roughly 362 million hectares of land in Canada, or nearly 40% its territory [1]

#3 - Canada’s forestry sector contributed $34.8 billion to Canada’s economy in 2021 (nominal GDP), a 33% increase from 2020 [1]

#4 - The forest sector accounted for 7.3% of Canada’s total exports in 2021, valued at $44.9 billion [1]

#5 - The forest sector generated more than $2.3 billion in revenue for provincial and territorial governments in 2020 [1]

#6 - In Canada, nearly 5% of the population identify as Indigenous, and almost 70% of them live in or near forested lands [1]

#7 - About 280 million hectares of boreal forest (about the same size as Argentina) provide critical bird breeding habitat for [1]:

• 80% of North American waterfowl species
• 63% of finch species
• 53% of warbler species

#8 - Canada has 158 million hectares of forest certified to third-party standards of sustainable forest management, representing 35% of the world’s certified forest area (2021) [1]

#9 - Over 23 million people live in or near forests in Canada (about two-thirds of the total population) [1]

#10 - The forest sector supports about 300-forest reliant communities across the country which are home to about 2% of Canada’s population, or about 700,000 people [1]

#11 - In 2021, the forest industry directly employed 205,365 people, up 10% from 2020 [1]

#12 - Approximately 12,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples were employed by the forest industry in Canada in 2021 [1]

#13 - Over 1.1 million First Nations, Inuit and Metis People live in or near forests in Canada [1]

#14 - Of all forest sector employees, 6% were Indigenous, 12% were immigrants and 17% were women (2016) [1]

#15 - About 90% of Canada’s forests are publicly owned (2021) [1]

#16 - 603 million seedlings were planted on 417,000 hectares of provincial forest lands in Canada (2020) [1]

#17 - Canada’s managed forests and the wood products harvested from them removed about 5.3 Mt of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere (2020) [1]

#18 - Canada’s forest sector has reduced its GHG emissions by close to 70% since the early 1990s

#19 – Average employee earnings across all forest sector activities were about $54,500 in 2021 [1]

#20 - With 9% of the world’s forests, Canada accounts for just 0.37% of the total global deforestation since 1990 [1]

#21 - Canada’s annual deforestation rate has declined over the last 30 years, with 49,000 hectares of forest converted to other land uses in 2020 compared to 64,000 hectares in 1990 [1]

#22 - About 716,000 hectares of forests were harvested in Canada in 2020, which corresponds to 0.2% of the forested land [1]

#23 - The area of forest harvested each year is less than 0.5% of Canada’s 362 million hectares of forest land [1]

#24 - 426,000 hectares of provincial forest lands in Canada were regenerated in 2020. Of these, 417,000 hectares were planted with 600 million seedlings and 9,200 hectares were established by seeding [1]

#25 - 11% of all rail traffic in Western Canada is forest products [6]

Canadian Forestry Facts by Province

ontario forestry facts - there are 514 employers in Ontario's forestry sector

Quebec Forestry Facts

#26 - The forest sector alone represents more than 10% of all jobs in 150 municipalities in Quebec [2]

#27 - It also generates economic benefits in more than 900 municipalities, representing 83% of communities across Quebec [2]

#28 - Quebec’s forestry sector contributed $5.9 billion to the provincial economy in 2021 – about 1.6% of total economic activity [2]

#29 - Quebec is home to 2,000 forestry-related establishments employing approximately 57,000 workers [2]

#30 - Quebec’s forestry industry accounts for $23 billion in domestic and manufacturing shipments in 2021 [2]

Ontario Forestry Facts

#31 - Ontario is home to over 70.5 million hectares of forests [4] and 85 billion trees [3]

#32 - Forests cover 66% of Ontario’s landscapes [4]

#33 - The province is home to 2% of the world’s forests, and 20% of Canada’s forests [4]

#34 - In 2020, 117,580 hectares of forests in Ontario were regenerated [4]

#35 - In 2020, 62.4 million trees were planted across the province, with an additional 126.2 million seeds being dispersed [4]

#36 - In 2020, the Ontario forest sector generated $4.3 billion in gross domestic product and $18 billion in revenues [4]

#37 - In 2021, the Ontario forestry sector supported 49,500 direct jobs [4]

British Columbia Forestry Facts

#38 - BC’s forestry sector supported 42,885 direct jobs across the province in 2020 [5]

#39 - Overall, the sector supports 140,000 jobs in B.C., with significant economic impacts in every region of the province [6]

#40 - BC forestry supports 1 in 5 local jobs in the three provincial regions of Cariboo, Northeast and North Coast & Nechako [6]

#41 - 5,315 Indigenous people are directly employed by B.C.’s forestry sector [6]

#42 - BC’s forest industry also contributed $5.6 billion to the provincial economy that same year, and added $1.27 billion to provincial government coffers [5]

#43 - BC’s forestry exports accounted for 29% of the province’s total commodity export value in 2020, equal to $11.5 billion [5]

#44 - BC is the largest producer of softwood lumber in North America [6]

#45 - 140 communities in B.C. are dependent on the forest industry [6]

#46 - Renewable B.C. forest products ship to more than 100 countries abroad [6]

Atlantic Provinces Forestry Facts

#47 - Forestry and forest products manufacturing contributes roughly $1.7 billion in economic activity to the Atlantic region and supports nearly 20,100 jobs [7]

#48 - Canadian Atlantic provincial forestry jobs are mostly found in New Brunswick (12,400), with Nova Scotia (5,300) and Newfoundland and Labrador (1,900) following behind (2021) [7]

#49 - Prince Edward Island was home to 500 forestry sector jobs in 2021 [7]

#50 – Forests cover more than 6 million hectares of New Brunswick’s land – that is 83% of the province [8]

#51 – New Brunswick is home to about 40 mills in rural areas of the province, including 6 pulp mills [8]

#52 – New Brunswick’s forestry sector employs more than 22,000 people across the province [8]

#53 – The forestry sector provides opportunities for more than 1,500 forestry supply businesses in rural and urban New Brunswick [8]

#54 – Eighty-eight species of plants and animals are protected under the New Brunswick Endangered Species Act [8]

#55 – Like in other provinces that practice sustainable forest management, New Brunswick trees are harvested according to specific guidelines that consider habitat, conservation, tree type and growth [8]

Forests are Part of Our Identity

Canadian forestry supporter quote

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

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

We should also be proud of our forest industry companies and workers committed to harvesting wood and other raw materials using only the most environmentally friendly methods. We should also be proud 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.

SOURCES:

1 – Natural Resources Canada – State of Forests Annual Report 2022 – Date Accessed: April 2023

2 – Government of Quebec – Invest in Quebec’s forest products industry – Date Accessed: April 2023 (https://www.quebec.ca/en/agriculture-environnement-et-ressources-naturelles/forets/entreprises-industrie/invest-forest-products)

3 – Forests Ontario – Forests Ontario Fact Sheet – Date Accessed: April 2023 (https://assets.ctfassets.net/e09p19lzfrfe/5vWxao6bKBRAYy7YU7GX9t/bdd79acbd52e59392cb5b5eaa84aa5b3/Forests_Ontario_Fact_Sheet__final.pdf)

4 – Government of Ontario – Forest management: facts and figures – Date Accessed: April 2023 (https://www.ontario.ca/page/forest-management-facts-and-figures)

5 – Government of British Columbia – 2020 BC Forest Sector – Statistics Summary – Date Accessed: April 2023 (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/forestry/forest-industry-economics/economic-state/2020_bc_forest_sector_-_statistics_summary.pdf)

6 – BC Council of Forest Industries – BC’s Forest Facts – Date Accessed: April 2023 (https://cofi.org/forest-facts-2/)

7 – Government of Canada – Industry Brief – Forestry and Forest Products Manufacturing: Atlantic Region 2022 – Date Accessed: April 2023 (https://www.jobbank.gc.ca/trend-analysis/job-market-reports/atlantic-region/sectoral-profile-forestry-products)

8 – Government of New Brunswick – New Brunswick Forests – Date Accessed: April 2023 (https://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/nr-rn/pdf/en/ForestsCrownLands/GNBForestryBrochure_EN.pdf)

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