Forestry Sector Overview

AuthorElaine L. Hughes, Arlene J. Kwasniak, Alastair R. Lucas
Arlene J Kwasniak and Nonye Opara*
Canada contain s nearly 400 million hectare s of forest, of which about
68 percent are coniferous, 16 percent mixedwood, and 11 percent broad-
leaf. Canada’s forestry res ources represent 10 percent of the world’s
forest cover, 30 percent of the world’s boreal forest, and more than 25
percent of the world’s temperate rainforests.1 An estimated 8 percent
of Canada’s forest area is located in park s and other formally protected
areas.2 Chapter 13 provides an over view of parks and protected areas,
and so these will not be covered here.
Canada has more publicly owned forest la nd than most other coun-
tries wit h a commercial forestry industry.3 These public land forests are
owned and managed by var ious levels of government.4 The federal gov-
ernment owns 4 percent while the provincial and territori al govern-
ments own 90 percent.5 By vir tue of the split ownership of public land
* Nonye Opara (LLM, C algary) is a Research Fellow w ith the Canadian In stitute
of Research L aw at the Faculty of Law, University of Cal gary, and the Program
Manager of Pro- Bono Law Alberta.
1 Natural Res ources Canada, “Forestr y in Canada,” online: ww
est s/can ada/ 13161.
2 Ibid, and Natura l Resources Canada, “Ke y Facts about Canada’s Forests,” online:
www.nrcan /measuri ng-reporting /key-forest-facts /17643.
3 Of Canada’s forest la nd, 94 percent is publicly owned wh ile 6 percent is classi-
f‌ied as privately ow ned. See Natural Resourc es Canada, “Forest Land O wner-
ship,” online:
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
forests in Canada, governments have specif‌ic management responsibil-
ities of public forests as well as shared re sponsibilities for matters such
as science and technology.6 Details of these roles and sha red respon-
sibilities are highlighted in subsequent sections.
Canada’s forests present an array of ecological, environmental, eco-
nomic, and other benef‌its. They purify water and ai r, capture and store
carbon dioxide, and help reduce pollution and mitigate the effects of
climate change.7 They are habitat to almost two-thirds of Can ada’s spe-
cies and are a source of recreational, cultural, and spiritual values.8
Canada’s forestry and forest products industries provide consider-
able economic value. The production in the forest sector in Canada in
2013 contributed 19.9 billion dollars to Canada’s real gross domest ic
product.9 About 66 percent of Canada’s forests are managed for timber
production or other uses.10 With over $31 billion generated in 2014
in export of forest products, the country ranks as the world’s leading
exporter of softwood lumber, news print, and wood pulp.11 Clearly
Canada’s forests and forest industry are of considerable importance to
Canada’s economy and society.12
Money made from Canada’s forests is not generated without en-
vironmental, ecological, and s ocial impacts. There are numerous issues
regarding the man agement of Canada’s forests. They include clearcut-
ting practices, in contra st to more selective harvesting that better pre-
serves diverse forest ecosy stems and old growth trees; replacing diverse
forests with monoculture forests or tree farms; lack of full considera-
tion of and accounting for watershed and ecological impacts such as
increased runoff, erosion, and water pollution; carrying out forestry
operations without proper heed for destructive impacts on animal
6 Ibid.
7 Natur al Resources Canada , “Forest Ecosystem Products and S ervices,” online: s/canada/ecosyst em-products-service s/13177.
8 Ibid.
9 Natural Res ources Canada, “Over view of Canada’s Forest Industr y, Canada’s
Forest Industr y by the Numbers,” online: Natural Re sources Canada www.
nrca forests /indust ry/over view/13311.
10 Natural ly:wood, Forest Practices in Canada, at 1, onli ne: www.naturallywoo d.
com/sites /default/f‌ile s/Build ing-Green-With-Wood-Toolkit-Forest-Practice s-
11 Natur al Resources Canada , “Economic Benef‌its of the Forest Indust ry,” online:
www.nrcan /report/economy/16517.
12 André H Rous seau, “Sustainable Forest s: A Canadian Journey, Citiz en Engage-
ment and Implication s for Rural Communities” (Paper deliver ed at Rural Matters,
Canadia n Rural Revitali zation Foundation Rural Univers ity, 27 October 2002),
citizen- engagement-and-impli cations-for-rura l-communitie s-presentation -to-r.

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