Forestry in Canada

Forestry in Canada

Covering 43 percent of our nation’s land area and accounting for 10 percent of the world’s total forest cover, Canada’s forests support more than 300,000 jobs across the country and provide us with a wide range of products from building materials to clean energy to high-tech additives for other manufactured goods.

Employment from sustainable forest management in Canada is especially important for Indigenous and rural communities where forest-related work is often a main source of income. As a matter of fact, the sector supports over 300 communities from coast-to-coast and adds more than $26 billion to our economy annually.

Even as the numbers of jobs are lower than in the past because of advances in harvesting technology and other economic factors, today’s forestry jobs tend to be on average more skilled and higher paid.

Canada's Forest Industry…

> is “Clean.” (that is, its production is carbon-friendly). Canada’s pulp and paper sector has decreased its greenhouse gas emissions by about two-thirds since 1990, while many forest companies have become energy self-sufficient within their production facilities by replacing fossil fuel consumption.

>  is “Renewable.” Canada is home to 38 percent of the world’s certified forests which are independently assessed against progressive social and environmental criteria. In fact, we’re home to the most forests in the world – by far -- that are independently certified to be sustainably managed. Among many other environmental and social considerations, that means our forest industry regenerates about as much forest as it harvests.

> is “Abundant.” Covering more than a third of a billion hectares stretching from the coastal rain forests of British Columbia to the Boreal forests of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s forests account for 10  percent of the world’s forested lands.

> is “Growing.” While Canada’s forest cover has remained fairly constant over the past two decades in spite of harvesting, fires, insect infestations, clearing for agriculture and energy, and for settlement, forests globally have expanded nearly four million hectares over the past decade. That’s because the world uses wood, which in turn sends a positive signal back to the market to grow more trees to meet that demand. 

Forestry in Canada: Facts

canada is a top 10 global exporter of many forestry products

  • Canada’s forest products industry has the best environmental reputation in the world according to a 2014 Leger survey of international customers (FPAC)
  • Canadian forest companies work with environmental partners both here and across the globe to find ways to both protect the environment while retaining jobs
  • Using wood products helps “green” the environment by replacing more carbon intensive materials with wood, which is also a carbon sink that helps mitigate climate change
  • Canada recycles about 70 percent of its paper and cardboard, among the highest rates in the world (FPAC)
  • The sector has made significant progress in reducing air and water pollutants: air pollutants are down by 52 percent and water pollutants are down by 70 percent since 2005 (FPAC)
  • The industry has eliminated toxins such as PCBs and dioxins, the use of coal entirely and has reduced oil use by more than 90 percent since 2000 (FPAC)
  • Waste has been reduced by 30 percent since 2005, and Canada today has virtually no deforestation, while it maintains about 90 percent of its original forest cover (FPAC)

Also see these 35+ Facts on the Forestry Sector in Canada to learn more!

Forestry & Indigenous Peoples in Canada

forestry sector in canada supports more than 300 communities

  • The forestry industry employs 11,595 Indigenous workers directly (NRC)
  • 1,200 to 1,400 Indigenous companies are active in this industry (National Aboriginal Forestry Association)
  • 60 percent of Aboriginal communities have put in to place treaties, agreements and/or MOUs, while 58 percent have a contract or partnership with a forestry company (National Aboriginal Forestry Association)

Take Action!forestry industry in crisis in Canada

Forests in Canada purify our air, regulate our water cycles and provide habitat for our wildlife. The forestry sector, a world-class leader in environmental practices and regulations, is a crucial employer across the country – and particularly in rural regions where, for many small Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, a well-paid forestry job can be the difference between poverty and prosperity for an entire family.

And Canada’s forest products industry is seen more and more as a part of the climate change solution in recent years. For example, growing forests, converting trees to forest products and then ensuring future forest growth all contribute to “closing the carbon cycle,” as follows:

  1. Young, growing trees pull carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the atmosphere and use it as food
  2. That CO2 is then stored in the wood as carbon, where it remains beyond when the tree is harvested
  3. Once the forest product burns or decomposes, or is converted to renewable energy, then the carbon is released into the atmosphere again as CO2
  4. As long as we maintain healthy growing forests, then the cycle repeats itself – and the CO2 is pulled down by the tree, and once again stored

From rural economic development to cleaning the air, regulating our water, providing habitat for our wildlife, housing our societies through green building, and mitigating climate change, there are few industries as worthy of national support as Canada’s forest products sector!

Return to Canada Action Home Page