Report calls for more integrity in Canada’s reporting on forests

OTTAWA | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORY OF THE ALGONQUIN ANISHNAABEG PEOPLE — In a first-of-its-kind joint report released today, leading North American environmental organizations have challenged the Canadian federal government’s annual account of the country’s forestry sector, which understates the impacts of industrial logging.

The new report, “The State of the Forest in Canada: Seeing Through the Spin,” shows that Natural Resources Canada’s annual report downplays or ignores the significant impacts of industrial logging on biodiversity, climate, forest integrity and ecosystem services, and its potential infringements of Indigenous rights.

The organizations highlight glaring omissions in the government’s annual report, including its lack of attention to the cumulative impact of industrial logging on remaining primary and old-growth forests, failures in forest regeneration due to logging infrastructure, population declines of key forest-dependent species such as threatened boreal caribou and the endangered spotted owl and a lack of transparent accounting of logging’s emissions footprint. Unlike the government’s publication, this new report also exposes examples of misalignment between industrial logging practices and Indigenous rights.

In examining all of these indicators, the report reveals that the actual state of the forests in Canada is far more complex and worrisome, and the logging industry far less sustainable, than the federal government claims. Industrial logging is driving significant forest degradation throughout the country, with alarming impacts on species and the climate, and many Indigenous communities are still not guaranteed a say over their lands.

“We’re seeing a conversion of healthy forest ecosystems to, at the landscape level, younger managed forests, fragmented by roads,” said David Suzuki Foundation boreal project manager Rachel Plotkin. “The cumulative impact of logging year after year is changing the face of our forests, and our government refuses to acknowledge it.”

“The federal government is risking the wellbeing of future generations by failing to accurately report on the degradation of forests in Canada,” said Michael Polanyi, policy and campaign manager at Nature Canada. “How can we protect biodiversity, mitigate climate change, and ensure the future of forest-dependent communities without accurate information?”

The report comes shortly after the annual international climate conference, where Canada reaffirmed the need to halt and reverse deforestation and forest degradation by 2030 and committed to synergistic action to address the climate and biodiversity crises.

Canada also just celebrated the one-year anniversary of its leadership on establishing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

“This report pulls into sharp relief the difference between Canada’s statements internationally and its ambition domestically,” said Jennifer Skene, natural climate solutions policy manager of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “The words and standards it presents to the world it then hollowly pursues with spin and omission.”

To improve the credibility and relevance of the government’s annual publication, “The State of Forests in Canada” recommends that the government transparently and comprehensively report on industrial logging’s impacts. This includes information on the industry’s cumulative effects; rates of degradation, including logging in primary and old-growth forests, carbon emissions attributable to the sector; regeneration failures and the government’s performance on respecting Indigenous rights.

“We call on Canada to meet the moment and provide the information necessary to decision-making that ensures the protection of forests and the rights of Indigenous Peoples, now and for future generations,” said Katie Krelove of the Wilderness Committee.

“We depend on forests for so much — to fight the climate and biodiversity crises and as an economic pillar for many northern communities,” said Julee Boan from NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “It’s essential that we have transparent reporting about the state of our forests today in order to make sound decisions for tomorrow. We’re calling on the federal government to meet this challenge and not shy away from letting people across Canada know where forest management is failing us, in addition to success stories.”

“The reality is that current forestry practices in Canada have degraded forests, making them vulnerable to larger and more intense fires, instead of leveraging their ability to act as carbon sinks,” said Richard Robertson, forest campaigner at “Canadians just lived through a devastating forest fire season, and 2024 is expected to be even worse. It’s time for the federal government to realize that business-as-usual forestry is not a fix for the deepening climate catastrophe.”

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