Nature Canada

The protection, restoration and improved management of forests in Canada is key to mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity.

Canada’s boreal forest soil, plants, and wetlands hold more than 12% of the world’s land-based carbon stock, the equivalent of more than 35 years of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels.

The diverse boreal landscape supports about two-thirds of Canada’s known species and provides nesting and breeding habitat for about half of Canada’s bird species, including up to 3 billion migrating birds each year.

Intact forests, like the boreal, are declining due to fires, diseases, industrial activity, and logging. Since 1996, more than 28 million acres (or 11 million hectares) of the boreal forest in Canada has been logged (twice the area of Nova Scotia). In addition, it is estimated that between 1975 and 2019, an estimated 3.3 million hectares of Canadian forests were converted to non-forest uses such as agriculture, mining and oil and gas extraction, and urban development.


Urban forests play a significant role in reducing carbon emissions, but also in reducing flooding and erosion from storms and providing shade and cooling vapours that temper extreme heat.

1. Protect

Protecting Canada’s current carbon-dense, biodiversity rich forest ecosystems is the most impactful nature based solution to emission reduction.

2. Manage

Improved management of forests can also reduce emissions and protect biodiversity.

Key Approaches →

3. Restore

Reforestation and restoration of degraded forests can lead to significant carbon sequestration.

More on Restoration →

Key approaches to forest management

Improved management of forests can also reduce emissions and protect biodiversity. Key approaches include:

  • Natural forest management and improved plantations
  • Proforestation (letting younger, harvested forests grow to ecological maturity)
  • Improved fire management
  • Expanding credible, robust certification systems like FSC that ensure forest operations promote conservation, maintain biodiversity, and seek input from Indigenous and local communities 
  • Indigenous-led land use planning and decision-making 
  • Better accounting of greenhouse gas emissions associated with logging, and requirements to implement practices to minimize emissions
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Key approaches to forest management

Improved management of forests can also reduce emissions and protect biodiversity. Key approaches include:

  • Natural forest management and improved plantations
  • Proforestation (letting younger, harvested forests grow to ecological maturity)
  • Improved fire management
  • Expanding credible, robust certification systems like FSC that ensure forest operations promote conservation, maintain biodiversity, and seek input from Indigenous and local communities 
  • Indigenous-led land use planning and decision-making 
  • Better accounting of greenhouse gas emissions associated with logging, and requirements to implement practices to minimize emissions

More on restoration

Reforestation is an important nature-based climate solution that can prevent climate change, biodiversity loss, natural disasters, food and water insecurity. Tree planting is also a way for Indigenous communities, municipalities, nature groups, and individuals to meaningfully contribute to protecting and restoring Canada’s natural systems.

Examples

Taking Action in Canada

Check out these examples of ways that nature-based climate solutions are being used in Canada’s forests, from local neighbourhood level to nation-wide initiatives. They might help you to think of projects for your community!

  • 2 Billion Trees Over 10 Years: Part of Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a contributor to other key federal goals, including cleaner air and water, support for biodiversity, and enhanced urban green space. 
  • National Greening Program: Tree Canada is reforesting landscapes on Indigenous lands. Through this program, the Yunesit’in First Nation has been able to restore their reserve, which was affected by the Hanceville wildfire in 2017. 
  • The Tay Valley Township has a commitment to facilitate the planting of 10,000 trees per year, and incentivize personal commitments to plant 10 trees per person per year (page 31).
  • Cheakamus Community Forest: A municipal First Nations partnership sustainably managed a forest to better store carbon while creating local jobs and economic benefits. One of 60 community-managed forests in BC. 
  • NRDC: Indigenous Communities Lead Way to Boreal Forest Protection
  • Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program: A tree-planting program focusing on increasing forest cover by making tree planting easier and more affordable for property owners and municipalities. As of 2020, Forests Ontario has planted more than 30 million trees through the program, producing over 16,500 hectares of new forests. 
  • Shaw Wilderness Park: A recent example of urban forest protection and a 380-acre tract of Acadian forest, just 5KM from downtown Halifax opened in 2020 with support from Nature Conservancy of Canada with all levels of government.
  • Clarington Trees for Rural Roads:  A program that has led to the planting of thousands of native trees and shrubs by property owners on rural roadsides.
  • NRDC: Indigenous Communities Lead Way to Boreal Forest Protection
  • 2 Billion Trees Over 10 Years: Part of Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a contributor to other key federal goals, including cleaner air and water, support for biodiversity, and enhanced urban green space. 
  • National Greening Program: Tree Canada is reforesting landscapes on Indigenous lands. Through this program, the Yunesit’in First Nation has been able to restore their reserve, which was affected by the Hanceville wildfire in 2017. 
  • The Tay Valley Township has a commitment to facilitate the planting of 10,000 trees/year, and incentivize personal commitments to plant 10 trees per person, per year (page 31).
  • Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program: A tree-planting program focusing on increasing forest cover by making tree planting easier and more affordable for property owners and municipalities. As of 2020, Forests Ontario has planted more than 30 million trees through the program, producing over 16,500 hectares of new forests. 
  • Shaw Wilderness Park: A recent example of urban forest protection and a 380-acre tract of Acadian forest, just 5KM from downtown Halifax opened in 2020 with support from Nature Conservancy of Canada with all levels of government. 
  • Cheakamus Community Forest: A municipal First Nations partnership sustainably managed a forest to better store carbon while creating local jobs and economic benefits. One of 60 community-managed forests in BC. 
  • Clarington Trees for Rural Roads:  A program that has led to the planting of thousands of native trees and shrubs by property owners on rural roadsides.

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.

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