Canada Target 6

By 2020, continued progress is made on the sustainable Goal Bmanagement of Canada's forests


  • Sustainability of timber harvest
  • Relevant indicators drawn from the existing suite of indicators in the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers (CCFM) Criteria and Indicators (C&I) Framework

About the Target

Forests are essential to the long term well-being of Canada's communities, economy, and environment. As stewards of 9% of the world's forests, Canada is dedicated to maintaining its forests in a healthy state and to managing them in a sustainable manner.

Continued progress on sustainable forest management is important to Canada for several reasons. These include ensuring that Canada's forests continue to provide species habitat along with a range of ecosystem services including air and water filtration and carbon sequestration, particularly in the face of ecological challenges such as climate change. Sustainably managed forests provide significant social, environmental and economic benefits and are important to rural economies and livelihoods and for sustaining traditional and contemporary Indigenous ways of life. In addition, domestic and international consumers expect that forest products will come from sustainably managed forests, and Canada’s commitment to sustainable forest management allows the country to access markets that would otherwise be unavailable. Canada has a strong record of managing its forests sustainably but needs to build on that record in order to realize the full range of economic, environmental, and social benefits the forests.

Canada Target 6 is linked with the following global Aichi target under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020:

  • Aichi Target 4 - By 2020, at the latest, Governments, business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits.
  • Aichi Target 5 - By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.
  • Aichi Target 7 - By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity.


2018 Interim Progress Assessment

On track to meeting target iconCanada is on track to achieve Canada Target 6. Progress towards Canada Target 6 is measured using criteria and indicators established by the Montreal Process (as reported in the State of Canada’s Forests annual reports). These indicators are aligned with the Global Core Set of Forest Indicators agreed to by the international community. These include changes in forest area, the overall area and volume of forests harvested, and the area of forest under independently verified certification schemes.

All levels of government have a role to play in helping achieve this target. Provincial governments set harvest limits within their jurisdictions, guide the development of long-term forest management plans, and regulate forest management practices on the ground.

The federal government provides scientific research and tools such as the National Forest Inventory, supportive procurement policies, and funding to support transformative technologies within the sector that help it continually improve economic and environmental performance.

Overall, Canada’s forest area is quite stable, having decreased by 0.1% between 2011 and 2016. While deforestation (the permanent conversion of forests to non-forest land uses such as agriculture) does occur in Canada, its rate is low –< 0.02% of total forest area per year – and continues to decline. Almost 7% of Canada’s forests lie within protected areas. Canada also has a sizeable area of forest defined as “unmanaged”, equal to roughly one-third of the total forest area. This is forest that is not subject to direct human impacts such as harvest, fire and insect management, or protection. Most of the unmanaged forest is located in northern and remote areas.

At the same time, harvesting has increased by 13% since 2011, (after a decrease of over 39% between 2004 and 2009) largely due to an increase in global demand for forest products. Harvested lands in Canada continue to represent less than half of 1% of Canada’s overall forest landmass each year, and forest regeneration is required after harvesting. The level of the timber harvest is, on average, more than 30% below the wood supply deemed sustainable by provincial and territorial regimes.

Approximately 65% of Canada’s total forest area is considered to be managed, with 91% of these lands being subject to long-term management plans. In addition, the area of forest land in Canada covered by independently verified certification schemes – which complement provincial, territorial and federal regulatory regimes – increased by 11% from 2011 to 2016.

All areas harvested on provincial Crown lands are required by law to be successfully regenerated. While specific requirements differ on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis, they typically address key attributes such as species composition, age class and forest type. The trend in the area of forest land regenerated through both planting and seeding generally follows the trend in harvesting, and 11% more forested land was planted and seeded in 2015 than in 2011.

Canada is active in a number of global initiatives such as the International Model Forest Network and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Canada also has formal and informal forest-related agreements with the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia and others.

Canada also contributes to a number of forest-related multilateral initiatives such as the Green Climate Fund, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, the BioCarbon Fund Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Trust Fund, and forest-related initiatives under the Global Environment Facility (GEF).


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