top of page

Forestry is one of the most important manufacturing industries in Canada

  • Forestry: employed approximately 209,940 people nationwide (2017), including an estimated 11,565 local employees (2016)

  • Accounted for 7.2% of Canada's total exports in 2017

  • Created more than 1.4 billion Canadian dollars in revenue for provincial and territorial governments in 2016

  • Contributed approximately 24.6 billion Canadian dollars to the Canadian economy in 2017

Compared with other resource sectors, the forestry industry accounts for a small proportion of the Canadian economy, but compared with other major resource sectors, for every dollar of value added, forestry creates more jobs and contributes to the balance of trade. Made a greater contribution.

Not just wood, pulp and paper

The core of the Canadian forest sector is traditional forest products, including wood, other solid wood products, pulp and paper, and activities such as forest management and logging. However, with Canada’s commitment to clean technology and the transition to a low-carbon economy, the importance of non-traditional forest products such as advanced biological products has increased.


The engine of the coastal economy

With the exception of the Far North, forest operations are carried out in all regions of Canada. In all work in the Canadian forestry industry:

• 52% in Ontario and Quebec

• 39% of the area is in Western Canada and the Prairies (the vast majority are in British Columbia)

• 9% are in Atlantic Canada

Canada’s forestry industry is the country’s main employer, but its economic contribution is particularly important in many rural and aboriginal communities where forest-related work is usually the main source of income. In these communities, forestry work is essential to ensure economic sustainability.

Increase in export markets

Globalization is increasing the possibilities for trade outside of the traditional markets of Canadian producers. For a long time, the US market has been the main importer of Canadian forest products. However, the impact of the US housing market crash that began in 2008 and the global financial crisis prompted Canadian producers to expand into other markets. Over the past decade, exports to Asian markets (mainly China) have increased dramatically and have helped strengthen the robustness of this trade-dependent industry.

Sustainable development indicators

Canadians have a profound commitment to the sustainable management of the country’s forest resources, because Canada’s rich forest ecosystem provides great environmental, social and cultural benefits, and opportunities for responsible economic development. Sustainable forest management can ensure that these benefits are maintained for present and future generations.

Industry, science-based measures called sustainability indicators, are useful tools for understanding the overall condition or condition of Canadian forests. Indicators provide a method for uniformly defining, evaluating, monitoring and reporting progress in sustainable forest management. In addition to the broad framework of federal, provincial and territorial laws and regulations, the government, researchers and the public all use indicators.

Canada uses internationally recognized indicators of sustainable forest management

Canada, along with 11 other countries, is a member of the Montreal Process, which is an international working group of northern and southern hemisphere countries committed to sustainable forest management. Since 1995, the member countries of the Montreal Process have been using a set of science-based common standards and indicators to measure progress in the conservation and sustainable management of 90% of the world’s northern and temperate forests.

The indicators presented in this section address the most pressing issues related to Canadian forests and forestry today. Together with the information in the "Statistics" section, these indicators reveal trends in Canadian forests and forest practices over time, comparable to sustainability indicators published by other countries/regions participating in the Montreal process.

Sustainably managed forests contribute to the global sustainable development goals

The United Nations established 17 sustainable development goals in the "2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" adopted by member states of the United Nations including Canada in September 2015. In addition to the 17 sustainable development goals, the agenda also includes 169 related goals for improvement. Global sustainable development across social, economic and environmental dimensions as well as peace, governance and justice.

Forests account for more than 30% of the earth’s land area and directly contribute to several sustainable development goals. Forests have the following advantages: purify water and air; provide food, housing, renewable energy, wood, and economic development; and provide recreational and cultural opportunities. Therefore, improving global sustainable forest management can help achieve sustainable development goals faster.

Sustainability indicator reports help ensure that benefits flow to future generations

The many demands on global forests need to be balanced so that present and future generations can benefit from the economic, environmental and cultural benefits of forests. Therefore, with the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, it is crucial to accurately measure and report on forest-related sustainability indicators. The report on the global sustainable development goals is a step towards reaching a consensus on the value of forests.

Indicators illustrate the benefits of forests in a changing world

The indicators illustrate how Canadian forests and society interact over time. These indicators also indicate the complexity of sustainable forest management, especially when faced with challenges such as climate change and other emerging issues.

However, Canada is a country with decades of experience in sustainable forest management, so Canadians can trust that good management practices and the many benefits of Canadian forests will continue to exist. Canadian trading partners can also rest assured that Canadian forest products come from sustainably managed forests.

Soft Wood

Softwood lumber refers to sawing of felled coniferous lumber into size lumber, appearance grade lumber, mechanical stress resistant grade lumber, cork board and other sawn timber. Dimensional softwood lumber products are mainly used for framing purposes in residential construction, so market trends are usually closely related to housing construction in the United States (especially single-family houses). Softwood timber accounts for 29% of Canada’s total export value of forest products. The United States accounts for 75% of the total value of Canadian cork exports.

It is expected that softwood timber exports will still depend on the demand of the US housing market. However, market development efforts are expanding the opportunities for Canadian softwood timber products in overseas and domestic markets.

Soft lumber prices


Since 2016, due to factors affecting demand and supply, the price of softwood lumber has been rising steadily and recently reached the highest level in 10 years. Since the global economic recession of 2008-09, the steady recovery of the US housing market has led to strong demand for softwood lumber, pushing up prices. At the same time, the impact of the mountain pine beetle on the black pine trees in British Columbia reduced the scale of Canadian timber logging. This reduction limits the ability of Canadian timber producers to cope with increasing demand and also put upward pressure on prices. Canada provides approximately one-third of the US softwood lumber market. Since 2017, another price impact has been the countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed by the United States on softwood products imported from Canada.

Wood pulp

Wood pulp is a fibrous material that can be broken down mechanically or chemically. Pulp is used as an intermediate product in the production of paper, packaging, hygiene and textile products. Canada’s main wood pulp products include:

• Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft Pulp (NBSK)

• Bleached Chemical Thermomechanical Pulp (BCTMP)

• Commercial and specialty dissolving pulp

Dissolving pulp produced around the world is mainly exported to China, where it is used to produce non-paper materials, including rayon fabrics. Dissolving pulp is also used as a food thickener and paint additive. Canada is the world's leading producer and exporter of NBSK, accounting for 40% of NBSK's global production capacity. NBSK is mainly used to produce printing and writing paper and thin paper. China is Canada's largest export destination, accounting for 44% of the total value of Canadian wood pulp exports.

Wood pulp price


The price of NBSK pulp remained stable before it started to rise until 2017-2018. Today, NBSK pulp prices are still higher than in the past decade. In the past 20 years, China has been the biggest driving force in the pulp market and continues to be Canada's main export destination. The increase in pulp prices in the past year or so was due to some unplanned shortages that continued into 2018. Due to the unconfirmed planned capacity expansion and the restructuring of several factories, the pulp market price is expected to rise in the next few years to produce dissolving pulp.

In 2013, the Canadian dollar weakened against the US dollar, resulting in a discrepancy between the pulp price and the Canadian dollar price (see the blue line in the graph).


Newsprint is made of thermomechanical pulp, which is a relatively low-cost paper product. It is most commonly used in newspapers, flyers and catalogs. Newsprint is best for short-life applications. Newsprint is usually made in integrated equipment, and the pulp and newsprint are made at the same location. Newsprint pulp is made from several coniferous species (such as black spruce and balsam fir).

Canada is the world's largest newsprint producer (14%) and the world's largest newsprint exporter (33.5%), most of which are exported to the United States. Quebec leads the production and export of Canadian newsprint (65% of total export value), followed by Ontario (11%).

The rise of digital media has led to a structural decline in Canadian newsprint (from 2016 to 2017, a decrease of 10%). It is expected that the newsprint market will continue to decline as consumers switch from paper-based media to electronic media.

Printing and Writing Paper

Printing and writing paper is a high-quality paper with better quality than newsprint. It can be produced by using northern bleached softwood kraft pulp and bleached chemical-thermomechanical pulp and at least 20% mechanical pulp. Printing and writing papers are used to make various office papers (for example, for printers and copiers, bond and writing paper, envelopes, forms, paper pads and offset printing papers).

Canada is the eighth largest producer and eighth largest exporter of printing and writing paper in the world. The United States is Canada’s main export market, accounting for 88% of Canada’s total export value. Similar to newsprint, the printing and writing paper market is expected to continue to decline (exports declined by 8.2% from 2016 to 2017). Canada ranks eighth, accounting for 3.0% of global printing and writing paper production.

Structural Wood

Canada is the third largest producer of wood panels (5.2% of global production); China is the world leader in panel production, accounting for more than 62% of global production. Canada is the second largest exporter of wood panels (11.9% of total global exports), most of which are exported to the United States (United States; 93%). British Columbia and Alberta lead Canada's structural panel exports, accounting for more than 50% of Canada's total structural panel exports. Similar to softwood lumber, the export market for structural panels is driven by demand from the US housing market.

Structural wood price


Panel prices have been relatively stable (in U.S. dollars, see the yellow line in the chart) before reaching a 10-year high in early 2018. Due to transportation disruptions and reduced fiber supply (due to wildfires in British Columbia in 2017), demand continues to exceed supply and the market remains tight. The difference between US and Canadian prices is due to changes in exchange rates. Since 2013, the US dollar/Canadian dollar exchange rate has been strengthening, causing the blue line in the chart to diverge.

Forest Fire

These fires occurred in forests, bushes and grasslands. Some are uncontrolled wildfires caused by thunder and lightning or human negligence. A few prescribed fires issued by authorized forest managers are used to imitate the process of natural fires to renew and maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Wildland fire management

Wildfires pose a challenge to forest management. They can threaten communities and destroy large amounts of timber resources, causing high losses. However, wildfires are a natural part of the forest ecosystem and are important for maintaining the health and diversity of forests in many parts of Canada. In this way, prescribed fires provide valuable resource management tools that can be used to improve ecological conditions and eliminate excessive fuel accumulation. Not (or can) control all wildfires. Forest institutions are committed to using natural firepower to take advantage of its ecological benefits while limiting its potential damage and costs. This makes fire fighting strategy an important part of Canadian forest management and emergency management. To understand the complex phenomena of wildfires, we must first understand the basic physical aspects of fire and the ecological effects of forests and other wild areas. Now, assessments of fire conditions across Canada are becoming more accurate, which is helping land managers use forest science to reduce fire risks and optimize returns.

Canadian Forest Service and its partners conduct fire research

The Canadian Forest Service (CFS) has been engaged in fire research for decades. The CFS works with partners across the country to increase the knowledge base about wildfires and improve the authorities’ ability to predict and manage risks and benefits.

• The main areas of activity include: Study wildfire behavior, including how fuel burns, how flames develop and spread

• Analyze the ecological role of fires in many different forests in Canada, and explore how climate change affects the occurrence and behavior of fires and other forest disturbances

• Evaluate current fire activities by monitoring forest conditions, tracking current fires and assessing new fire risks

• Carry out all aspects of wildfire management-from developing prevention strategies to protect people, property and forest resources, to using fire to achieve forestry, wildlife and land use goals, and supporting the work of jurisdictions responsible for fire protection

bottom of page