Forestry

Photo of tree

Canadian forests play a primary role in the ecology, culture and economy of our country. Several types of forest ecosystems can be found, and these areas combined cover almost half of Canada. Canadian forests shelter a large variety of plants, animals and microorganisms, which depend on forested habitats. Forests also play an essential role in both the carbon cycle and water cycle. The Canadian identity and economy are strongly tied to our forests. Forests are a source of sustenance and a means of livelihood for Canadians and Aboriginal Peoples. They provide raw material for the industry as well, they provide opportunities for commercial activities such as hunting, fishing and tourism.

List of Topics:

Forest Distribution

Ecological Framework

Fifteen ecozones make up terrestrial Canada, and five make up the marine waters bordering Canada. Canada’s 15 terrestrial ecozones can be subdivided into 53 ecoprovinces, which can be further broken into 194 ecoregions. Ecozones are useful for general national reporting and for placing Canada’s ecosystem diversity in a North American or global context. Ecoprovinces are useful units at an intermediate scale for national and regional planning and reporting purposes. Ecoregions are a useful ecosystem scale for national, provincial, and regional planning and reporting purposes. Regardless of the level in the hierarchy, each unit is distinguished from others by its unique mosaic of plants, wildlife, climate, landforms, and human activities. View more details on GeoGratis.

Ecological Framework

Land Cover

This map shows the distribution of land cover types across Canada, based on satellite data obtained in 1995. The land cover map contains 31 classes: 12 forest; 3 shrubland; 7 tundra/grasslands; 7 developed land types including cropland, mosaic and built-up areas; and 2 water cover types. View more details on GeoGratis.

Land Cover

Productive Forest Land Use

Forty-five percent of the Canadian territory is forested corresponding to 417.6 million hectares. There are 234.5 million hectares of commercial forests and 0.4% is harvested each year. The forested areas managed for timber production are mostly located in the Boreal Shield, Atlantic Maritime, Montane Cordillera and Pacific Maritime ecozones. View more details on GeoGratis.

Productive Forest Land Use

Tree Species by Ecoregion

This map shows the number of tree species by ecoregion.There are about 180 species of trees in Canada. More tree species are found in Southern Ontario and along the St. Lawrence River. The highest number of tree species is found in the Lake Erie Lowlands ecoregion. View more details on GeoGratis.

Tree Species by Ecoregion

Limits of Forest Trees

Contained within the 2nd Edition (1915) of the Atlas of Canada, is a map that shows the northern limits of approximately 40 different tree species in Canada, including an extension into the Northern U.S. Red, green and blue lines delineate the limits of the trees and forests. The map also includes rivers, major bodies of water, and the specific locations of several tree types. View more details on GeoGratis.

Limits of Forest Trees

Land Capability for Forestry

Contained within the 5th Edition (1978 to 1995) of the National Atlas of Canada is a map that portrays seven classes of land capability for growing commercial forests; also shows boundary of Canada Land Inventory area. View more details on GeoGratis.

Land Capability for Forestry

Ranges of Principal Commercial Trees

Contained within the 3rd Edition (1957) of the Atlas of Canada is a map that shows 20 condensed maps of tree species native to Canada. There are 171 different species, but many of these are of little or no commercial importance in addition to, in many cases, having a very restricted range. The maps on this plate show the ranges of the 35 species of economic importance. The range maps are similar to those used in the 1949 edition of Forestry Branch Bulletin 61, Native Trees of Canada. Shades of green indicate the ranges of the coniferous species commonly known as softwoods. The brown tints show the ranges of the broadleaved, mostly deciduous species, commonly referred to as hardwoods. View more details on GeoGratis.

Ranges of Principal Commercial Trees

Forest Fires

Forest Fire Ignitions by Cause 1959 - 1999

Forest fires are an important part of the Canadian landscape. The number of fires and area burned can vary dramatically from year to year, but there are more than 8000 reported wildfires in Canada during a typical year, burning an average of 2.5 million hectares or 25 000 square kilometres. Only 3 percent of fires in Canada reach a final size greater than 200 hectares, but these fires are responsible for 97 percent of the total area burned. This map shows the forest fire ignition causes for fires greater than 200 hectares. The data represent a compilation of all fire point location and perimeters for fires greater than 200 hectares, as provided by fire management agencies of provinces, territories and Parks Canada. View more details on GeoGratis.

Forest Fire Ignitions by Cause 1959 - 1999

Forest Fire Areas 1980 - 2003

Forest fires are an important part of the Canadian landscape. The number of fires and area burned can vary dramatically from year to year, but there are more than 8000 reported wildfires in Canada during a typical year, burning an average of 2.5 million hectares or 25 000 square kilometres. Only 3 percent of fires in Canada reach a final size greater than 200 hectares, but these fires are responsible for 97 percent of the total area burned. This map shows fires greater than 1000 hectares. The data represent a compilation of all fire point location and areas for fires greater than 1000 hectares, as provided by fire management agencies of provinces, territories and Parks Canada. View more details on GeoGratis.

Forest Fire Areas 1980 - 2003

Wildfire Evacuations 1980-2003

Every year in Canada, thousands of people are evacuated from their homes and workplaces due to the threat of wildfire, and thousands more are put on evacuation alert. The wildland-urban interface refers to residential, industrial or agricultural developments that are located within or near forested or grassland areas. Each year, more and more Canadians live, work and play in these forested areas and therefore live with the threat of wildfire. Evacuations are ordered for a number of reasons: danger to life and property, health risks and poor visibility due to smoke, and road closures preventing access to a community. The resulting disruptions to lives, businesses and transportation can have serious economic and social consequences; however, evacuations are essential to save lives and allow management personnel to do their jobs. No civilian lives have been lost due to wildfire in Canada since 1938. This map shows the number of persons evacuated due to wildfires during the period 1980 to 2003. View more details on GeoGratis.

Wildfire Evacuations 1980-2003

Forest Fire Severity Level, 1980 - 1989

Climate warming can bring more frequent and severe forest fires. This map shows the change in forest fire severity levels across Canada from 1980 to 1989, based on Global Generation Circulation Models. The Seasonal Severity Rating (SSR) is a measure of fire danger conditions over a complete fire season. The SSR is developed by averaging daily values over the season. The scale shown is relative, with values above 6 being extreme. A real value of zero is only possible in remote cold regions where no fire danger exists in the summer months. View more details on GeoGratis.

Forest Fire Severity Level, 1980 - 1989

Forest Fire Severity Level, 2050 - 2059

Climate warming can bring more frequent and severe forest fires. This map shows the change in forest fire severity levels across Canada from 2050 to 2059, based on Global Generation Circulation Models. The Seasonal Severity Rating (SSR) is a measure of fire danger conditions over a complete fire season. The SSR is developed by averaging daily values over the season. The scale shown is relative, with values above 6 being extreme. A real value of zero is only possible in remote cold regions where no fire danger exists in the summer months. View more details on GeoGratis.

Forest Fire Severity Level, 2050 - 2059

Forest Fire Severity Level, 2090-2099

Climate warming can bring more frequent and severe forest fires. This map shows the change in forest fire severity levels across Canada from 2090 to 2099, based on Global Generation Circulation Models. The Seasonal Severity Rating (SSR) is a measure of fire danger conditions over a complete fire season. The SSR is developed by averaging daily values over the season. The scale shown is relative, with values above 6 being extreme. A real value of zero is only possible in remote cold regions where no fire danger exists in the summer months. View more details on GeoGratis.

Forest Fire Severity Level, 2090-2099