Sustainability of timber harvest

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Between 1990 and 2013, annual timber harvest in Canada ranged from 47% to 85% of the estimated supply of industrial roundwood. Canada's wood supplyFootnote [1] has remained relatively stable since 1990, at an average of 239 million cubic metres.Footnote [2]

The harvest of industrial roundwoodFootnote [3] reached a peak of 205 million cubic metres in 2004, then declined to a low of 114 million cubic metres in 2009, the smallest harvest in the 1990-2013 period. This pattern is the result of economic factors, such as reduced demand for Canadian lumber due to the collapse in the United States housing market, and reduced global demand for Canadian pulp and paper products. There has been some recovery in recent years as the global economy improves.

Wood supply and annual harvest of industrial roundwood, Canada, 1990 to 2013

Line graph

Long description

The upper line in the graph shows the estimated wood supply. Canada's wood supply remained relatively stable from 1990 to 2013, at an average of 239 million cubic metres. The lower line in the graph shows the annual harvest of industrial roundwood from 1990 to 2013. The annual harvest volume reached a peak of 205 million cubic metres in 2004, then declined to a low of 114 million cubic metres in 2009, the smallest harvest since 1990. There has been some recovery in recent years.

Data for this chart
Wood supply, harvest of industrial roundwood, percent of wood supply harvested, and total harvest, Canada, 1990 to 2013
Year Wood supply
(million cubic meters)
Industrial roundwood harvested
(million cubic meters)
Wood supply harvested
(%)
Total roundwood harvested
(million cubic meters)
1990 249.6 156.4 63 162.6
1991 246.8 154.2 62 160.9
1992 242.4 163.7 68 170.1
1993 239.1 169.6 71 176.0
1994 239.2 177.4 74 183.3
1995 235.6 183.2 78 188.5
1996 236.3 177.9 75 183.4
1997 238.7 183.6 77 188.8
1998 238.1 173.9 73 177.0
1999 238.7 195.4 82 198.3
2000 234.7 198.9 85 201.8
2001 236.9 182.9 77 185.9
2002 237.7 193.2 81 196.1
2003 238.8 178.2 75 181.1
2004 245.9 205.1 83 207.9
2005 244.1 200.2 82 203.3
2006 246.2 181.0 74 184.0
2007 250.7 161.4 64 164.6
2008 249.5 136.0 55 139.3
2009 240.0 113.7 47 116.8
2010 234.9 138.6 59 141.9
2011 228.6 146.1 64 149.9
2012 225.9 147.5 65 151.4
2013 223.7 147.8 66 152.1

Note: The "total roundwood harvested" column includes harvest of industrial roundwood, fuelwood and firewood.

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Note: Wood supply and the harvest data presented are both for industrial roundwood only. For information on total roundwood harvest, which includes industrial roundwood, fuelwood and firewood volumes, see the accompanying data table.
Source: National Forestry Database.

Canada has 3.47 million square kilometres of forest,Footnote [4] representing 35% of Canada's terrestrial area.Footnote [5] About 9% of the global forest cover is in Canada.Footnote [6]

Sustainable forest management means ensuring that forests provide a broad range of goods and services over the long term. Forest managers plan for harvest levels that will not affect the long-term sustainability of the forest resource. Governments estimate the yearly acceptable level of harvest by estimating the wood supply, which is the maximum volume of wood that can be harvested sustainably. Both the estimated wood supply and the volume of wood harvested fluctuate in response to a wide range of ecological, social and economic factors. Comparing the amount of timber actually harvested to the estimated sustainable wood supply is one way we can track how well we are managing our forests.

Theme III: Protecting Nature of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

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