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Sustainable forest management in Canada

Sustainable forest management is a way of using and caring for forests to maintain their environmental, social, cultural and economic values and benefits over time.

In Canada, sustainable forest management decisions and activities are based on:

  • scientific research
  • rigorous planning processes
  • public consultation

To uphold these decisions and activities, federal, provincial, territorial and municipal forest laws, regulations and policies have been developed. The goal of these measures is to guide and enforce sustainable forest management practices and standards on public and private lands across the country.

Laws, regulations and policies are made in an open and collaborative process with extensive public participation and consultation. They are in place to:

  • specify harvesting and regeneration practices
  • respect Indigenous values and treaty rights
  • set aside protected areas and protect biodiversity
  • prevent illegal logging in Canada
  • prohibit the import of illegal timber products into Canada

Canada’s commitment to sustainable forest management

Canada applies sustainable forest management principles across all publicly owned forests. Public forests account for approximately 94% of all Canada’s forest land. Sustainable forest management practices balance competing short term uses while ensuring the benefits of forests are enjoyed by generations to come.

In Canada, forest companies seeking to log on public lands must develop forest management plans that comply with strict forest laws and the principles of sustainable forest management. Companies must consult the public, industry and experts to ensure the plans include steps to maintain ecosystem health and create economic opportunities for communities. Registered professional foresters must prepare the plans.

Independently verified forest management certification processes provide added assurance that a forest company is operating legally and complying with internationally accepted standards for sustainable forest management. Globally, Canada has the largest area of independent third-party certified forests.

Sustainable forest management in Canada is also crucial from a global perspective. Canada has 9% of the world’s forests, which contribute to global ecosystem health. Canada’s commitment to sustainable forest management ensures that Canadian forest products are sourced from forests that are managed sustainably.

Sustainability indicators

The State of Canada’s Forests report provides the most recent information for selected science-based indicators of sustainable forest management. Published annually since 1990, past editions of this report are available on the Canadian Forest Services publications database.

Find out more

Canadian Forest Service Publications

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