Canadian Biomass Magazine

Canada’s harvest at half of sustainable level

November 24, 2011
By Scott Jamieson

Nov 24, 2011, Ottawa - According to the latest Natural Resources Canada overview The State of Canada's Forest: 2011 Annual Report, harvest levels nationwide have fallen sharply in recent years to levels far below those deemed sustainable by provincial regulations.

Published annually by the government body, the overview provides statistics on harvest levels and industry performance in each province, and tracks performance against a wide array of sustainability indicators, including certification (143 million ha by late 2009), fossil fuel use, biodiversity, deforestation, GHG emissions, employment and more.

One such indicator is the annual harvest of timber relative to the level of harvest deemed sustainable by provincial forest management regulations (annual allowable cut – AAC). Here are some of the report's key findings:

  • Softwood harvests on all land types averaged 144 million cubic metres in the decade between 2000 and 2009, or more than 20 percent below the sustainable harvest level. Harvests have fallen rapidly, however, since 2004, and current volumes are about half the estimated sustainable supply.
  • Hardwood harvests on all land types remained relatively constant between 2000 and 2009 at about 30 million cubic metres, although they too dropped after 2004 by a third to 20 million cubic metres in 2009, "well below the estimated wood supply of 58 million cubic metres per year", the report notes.
  • While the total estimated sustainable harvest level for 2009 was almost 250 million cubic metres (public and private land), the actual harvest was below 125 million cubic metres, or 50 percent.
  • At the peak of the last forest products boom in 2004, the total harvest level was just over 200 million cubic metres of a sustainable harvest of just over 240 million cubic metres, or 83 percent.

The complete report is available for download at the Canadian Forest Service site .


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