Overview - Canada's Forests

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Canada is the second largest country in the world with forest or other wooded land making up 40% of its 979 million hectares. Canada’s forest cover represents 30% of the world’s forest and 9% of the world’s overall forest cover.

Under Canada's Constitution, the federal and provincial/territorial governments have specific roles in the management of public forest lands. The federal government is responsible for matters relating to the national economy, trade, international relations, and federal lands and parks, and has constitutional, treaty, political and legal responsibilities for Aboriginal peoples. The provincial and territorial governments have legislative authority over the conservation and management of the forest resources on Crown lands. The laws and regulations governing forest practices on provincial and territorial public lands are among the most stringent in the world.

Forest Types EN

For a larger image click here     Source: Natural Resources Canada


Canada is home to the eight major forest regions listed below:


The deciduous forest region is home to Canada’s largest collection of native tree species such as the tulip, cucumber, pawpaw, red mulberry & sassafras. Located in southwestern Ontario between Lakes Huron, Ontario & Erie, the region is also home to a number of rare species like the southern flying squirrel, red-bellied woodpecker, black rat snake, and gray tree frog. Despite much of the original forest being cleared by early European settlement the deciduous forest region still represents almost three per cent of Ontario’s total area.


This region covers Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and most of New Brunswick. Its makeup most closely resembles that of the Great Lakes-St Lawrence region, with beech, red oak, white elm all common to the region. Also found are black spruce, balsam fir, yellow birch, sugar maple and the trembling aspen, which is also common to the Subalpine and Boreal Forest Regions.


Canada shares 30% of the global boreal forest. The Canadian portion of the boreal region stretches from the Yukon and northeastern British Columbia across the northern parts of the Prairie provinces, Quebec and Ontario to Labrador and Newfoundland. It forms a band more than 1000 kilometres wide. This area is primarily publicly owned and is rich in natural resources.  Encircling the earth's Northern Hemisphere just south of the Arctic Circle, this green mantle of mainly coniferous forest comprises about 16.6 million square kilometres, or roughly one-third of the planet's forested area. 


The Montane Forest Region covers British Columbia’s central plateau, a portion of the Kootenays, and several valleys near the Alberta border. Trees commonly found in the region are Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine and trembling aspen; white spruce is often found in cooler locations such as shaded valleys. Ponderosa pine can be found in the region’s southern reaches while to the north are species such as Engelmann spruce, alpine fir and western white birch. 


Situated between the Rocky Mountains and British Columbia’s central plateau, and running alongside river valleys and lakes, the coniferous Columbia Forest Region resembles the coast region in its makeup, albeit with fewer species. Throughout the region western red cedar and western hemlock mingle with Douglas-fir, while in the southern reaches grand fir, western yew and others are found. 


Canada’s Subalpine Forest Region spans both British Columbia and Alberta, stretching across the Rocky Mountains from the coast to the uplands of Alberta. The lodgepole pine, Englemann spruce and alpine fir are all trees characteristic to the Subalpine Region which also shares a number of trees with other forest areas; the boreal forest, for example, shares its black spruce, white spruce, and trembling aspen with the Subalpine.  Other trees found in this region are the western larch, mountain hemlock, limber pine and whitebark pine.

Great Lakes/St. Lawrence

Among Canada’s forest regions, the Great Lakes/St Lawrence area is second in size only to the boreal, covering southeastern Manitoba to the Gaspé Peninsula. Trees in this region are a mix of coniferous and deciduous, with species such as the red pine, eastern white pine, yellow birch and eastern hemlock. Many boreal species may also be found here, in addition to beech, red oak, basswood, eastern white cedar, white elm and largetooth aspen.


This almost exclusively coniferous region is unique to the coast of British Columbia. It is home to a number of trees like the Douglas-fir, Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and western red cedar, all of which are recognized for their economic value as timber-producers. 

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