More than a giant, complex and interconnected machine that, among other goods, produces the world’s best maple syrup, Canada’s forests are central to the Canadian identity, providing environmental, economic and social benefits that often go overlooked. But even a quick glance at the many advantages living forests bring to people and animals shows how truly important they are – and why we need to everything we can to make sure they stay healthy.

Mythic and Majestic

The largest portion of Canada’s forest cover takes its name from Boreas, the Greek god of the North wind. Swinging south from the Alaska border and stretching all the way to Newfoundland, the boreal forest represents about 75 per cent of this country’s forested land. Both massive and important, it tends to overshadow the combined role all 8 of Canada’s major forest zones play in making this country a great place to live and work.

Canada’s boreal, Acadian, coast, subalpine and other forest zones work together to be among the planet’s biggest producers of oxygen. But it’s not all about air, even with the boreal’s mythic namesake; our forests also absorb and store enormous amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping moderate the effects of climate change.

Closer to ground level, forests help preserve soils, move nutrients around, and act as natural cleansers by filtering pollutants from air and water. This even happens in our biggest cities, where tree cover in parks and on boulevards helps improve air and water quality.

Forests are one of the many habitat types animals rely on for shelter, food, and water.  Of the estimated 140,000 species found in Canada, about two-thirds utilize forest ecosystems. This includes the 150 different kinds of song birds found in the boreal forest, the spirit bear of BC’s coastal rainforests, elk and wolves in the Prairie Provinces, and the white-tailed deer and moose that call the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest region home.

Valuable and Productive

In 2016, the forest industry contributed $23.1 billion to Canada’s GDP and employed almost 1,000,000 people in direct or indirect jobs. These positions range from foresters, scientists and engineers to skilled tradespeople and businesses that provide services to the sector. The country’s commitment to sustainable forest management – including restoration of all harvested areas in Crown forests – also means the industry can provide long-term stable employment, especially in rural and Indigenous communities.

When we think of the economic benefits and products that come from our forests, lumber and paper are usually top of mind. Although under-the-radar, food products including blueberries, mushrooms and game meat, such as deer, also make significant contributions to rural economies. And we can’t forget Canada’s sweetheart, maple syrup – it’s irresistible goodness generated $381 million in 2016, something we owe in large part to well-managed forests.

Forests have been critical in shaping Canada and will be vital to the nation’s future. That’s why we think it’s important for Canadians to celebrate their many attributes and understand how they contribute to our quality of life – filtering the air we breathe, supporting biodiversity, generating useful products and quality jobs, providing us with beautiful places to enjoy, and building strong communities.   Where would we, and our pancakes, be without them?!

Capture a photo of a forest near you and win!

From May 1, 2018, to August 20, 2018, we want your family to join the Living Forests Photo Contest and show Canada how important forests are to you.

With a camera in hand, take your kids to a forest. It can be a small wooded area in your city or town, or even a national or provincial park. While you’re out enjoying nature, see if you can capture an image that will fit into one of these categories:

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