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How do forests benefit Canadians?

Forests provide a wide range of economic, social and environmental benefits. The forest sector continues to be a major contributor to Canada’s economy. The sector provides income for local workers in 2,400 communities, contributes $25.2 billion to nominal GDP, supports more than 300 forest-reliant communities and directly employs more than 184,000 Canadians.

Canada’s forests play an essential role in the economy and the lives of Canadians, including in Indigenous and rural communities. Forests sustain life by providing essential habitat, food, renewable energy and materials. They also provide important environmental services and opportunities for spiritual and cultural enrichment. The forest sector supports about 300 forest-reliant communities and directly employs 205,365 Canadians, including approximately 12,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit people. Forest ecosystems also provide important biodiversity habitat; supply goods and services that can drive sustainable growth; and are an essential part of the solution to climate change. Sustainably managed forests, and the wood products produced from them, provide important pathways to manage carbon and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Key sustainability indicators

Explore the report to find information on the key sustainability indicators:

  • Forest sector employment: Annual indicator of direct employment in the forest sector. This indicator is an important measure of how the forest sector contributes nationally to the economic and social welfare of Canadians.
  • Forest sector average earnings: Annual average earnings in the forest sector. Trends in average earnings indicate the overall importance of the sector to the economy, especially when compared with other industries.
  • Forest communities: Percentage of people working and living within Canada’s forests. Forests provide a range of important economic, cultural and environmental benefits for many Canadian rural and urban communities (download the report for more details).
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Forest sector employment

Forest sector direct employment, 2011–2021

Graph summary

Between 2011 and 2021, total employment fluctuated at around 200,000 jobs, with a high of just over 210,000 in 2018 and a low of under 190,000 in 2020. In 2021, the total employment increased again to over 205,000 jobs. On average, the wood product manufacturing subsector makes up the greatest share of the forest sector employment, followed by the pulp and paper product manufacturing and the in-forest activities subsectors.

Graph data

Table showing direct employment in the forest sector for each year from 2011 to 2021 for three subsectors: pulp and paper product manufacturing, wood product manufacturing and in-forest activities.

Year Jobs
In-forest activities Pulp and paper product manufacturing Wood product manufacturing
2011 57,450 60,755 85,770
2012 53,185 58,650 88,120
2013 53,040 58,805 91,140
2014 52,795 58,510 91,200
2015 53,120 57,910 91,550
2016 55,310 54,170 96,445
2017 55,005 56,140 99,830
2018 55,835 56,635 98,605
2019 54,405 53,815 94,925
2020 47,925 52,805 86,260
2021 53,100 55,435 96,830

Forest sector average earnings

Average earnings in the forest sector compared with all manufacturing sectors, 2011–2021

Graph summary

Average annual earnings for the forestry and logging subsector rose steadily from a low of just below $50,000/year in 2011 to nearly $53,000/year in 2021.

Average annual earnings for the pulp and paper product manufacturing subsector experienced more annual variability than the other forest subsectors, but hovered around an average of about $60,000/year. Average annual earnings were lowest at about $56,000/year in 2014 and highest at about $63,000/year in 2019, but had a notable drop in 2018 ($57,000/year).

Average annual earnings for the wood product manufacturing subsector were fairly stable with a slight overall increase from a low of around $45,000/year in 2011 to almost $49,000/year in 2020, with a spike in 2017 of over $50,000/year.

Average annual earnings across all manufacturing sectors have remained steady from 2011 to 2021 at about $50,000/year.

Graph data

Table showing the average annual earnings per person, in 2012 dollars, for three forest subsectors (forestry and logging, pulp and paper product manufacturing, and wood product manufacturing) compared to the average annual earnings per person for all manufacturing sectors from 2011 to 2021.


Average earnings (2012 dollars)

Forestry and logging Pulp and paper product manufacturing Wood product manufacturing All manufacturing
2011 48,813 60,188 45,093 49,282
2012 48,700 59,670 46,413 49,627
2013 50,691 60,766 46,196 50,152
2014 49,392 56,150 45,777 50,359
2015 51,901 60,738 47,070 51,505
2016 51,740 63,057 47,762 51,389
2017 51,063 60,059 50,528 50,535
2018 52,166 57,013 46,098 49,394
2019 52,529 63,168 46,683 50,489
2020 52,434 58,206 48,561 51,022
2021 52,670 62,093 48,826 50,546
Sources and information

See Sources and information in the downloadable report for detailed sources.

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