Unit 3 - The Economic Importance of Forests

Lesson 3: Forests and Canada's Economy

Forests are a major source of wealth to Canadians and are central to Canada's economy. In 2016 the Canadian forest industry provided for 211,075 direct jobs (foresters, skilled tradespeople, scientists, engineers, and technicians) and 95,000 indirect jobs. These jobs have a huge economic impact on rural and Indigenous communities and are crucial to their economic sustainability.
Have you thought about a career in the forest industry? 
  Click here to learn about the rewards of working in Canada's forest products industry.
The graph below, courtesy of Natural Resources Canada,  shows the number of jobs, in thousands, directly related to Canada's forest industry.

   Think About It!

When you think of the economic benefits of Canada's forest industry, you might automatically think of timber, but consider that Canadians benefit economically from non-timber products, forest-based food products, such as

  • maple syrup
  • blueberries
  • mushrooms
  • game meat

A country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total value of all goods and services produced annually; it can also be described as the size of a country's economy.

In 2016, the forest industry contributed 1.2% to Canada's GDP, which converts to $23.1 billion.  From 2015 to 2016, the Canadian economy grew by 1.4%; it's interesting to note that the forest industry exceeded that and grew 2.4%. 
The graph below, courtesy of Natural Resources Canada, shows the Canadian Forest Industry's GDP from 2006 - 2016.

The figures in the graph above are important because contribution to the nominal GDP is one of the main indications of the size and health of Canada's forest industry, compared with other Canadian industries, in a given year.

New Technologies

As indicated above, traditional forest products, such as lumber, other solid wood products, and pulp and paper are the mainstay of the Canadian forest industry.  However, the decline in the need for print materials and also another soft lumber dispute with the U.S. has prompted the forest industry to look at new technologies. In addition, with Canada's commitment to clean technology and a low carbon economy, non-traditional forest products, such as "biomass" are starting to increase in importance.

Biomass consists of any biological material derived from living or recently living organisms, such as wood, vegetation, crops, waste material, even landfill gas. Modern technology has found multiple uses for biomass materials, once considered useless by-products. Facilities such as bio-refineries convert biomass into fuel, power, and many types of chemicals important to our modern economy.

  Dr. David Pare, a forest ecosystem sustainability scientist, with the Canadian government Forests and Forestry Dept. discusses forest-based bioenergy in Canada. Click here to read his article; Quiz #3 will contain questions based on the article.