Unit 3 - The Economic Importance of Forests


Lesson 2: Forests and the Global Economy

Worldwide, about 60 million people live within the forest, and 350 million of the world's poorest people are almost totally dependent on forests for their subsistence and survival.

Forests are an essential driver of the world's economy. They contribute to the livelihood of at least 1.6 billion people.

Approximately 50 million people are employed by forest industries, and international trade in forest products is worth approximately $270 billion (In United States funds).

As you can see in the graph (courtesy of Natural Resources Canada), the U.S.A. has been a large importer of Canada's forest products, but with the crash of the U.S. housing market, Canada needed to look at other countries, specifically China,  to offset the decrease of the U.S. market.



Canada's exports, from forest products,
contribute 17.1 billion in net trade. 
Almost half of Canada's forest product export value is from the following three products:

Canada is one of the largest producers and exporters of softwood lumber.  Softwood lumber accounts for 20% of the value of Canada's forest product exports.  The largest importer is the United States, where Canada's softwood lumber is used to build houses.  In 2006, the housing industry in the U.S.A crashed and the result was a large decrease in the demand for Canada's soft lumber.  As indicated above, Canada then looked to other countries interested in importing Canada's softwood lumber.
The world produces a total of about 32 million tonnes of newsprint; Canada is the single largest producer at 4 million tonnes or about 12% of the world total.  However, since 2000, in North America the demand for newsprint has declined by about 65%; you can probably guess that the decline is due to the increase in electronic media.

Canada has the largest share of the global NBSK market with one-third of the world's production. NBSK is an increasingly important pulp grade for tissue and paper production, which puts Canada's production in a good position.
This graph, courtesy of Natural Resources Canada, shows the various forest products' exports from 2006 - 2016.  By exporting these products, Canada's forest industry can meet the world's needs while contributing substantially to Canada's economy.