About the Boreal

This page provides a broad overview of Canada’s boreal forest. For more detailed information visit our Values of the Boreal and Threats to the Boreal pages.

Canada’s boreal forest is a vast and still largely pristine forest ecosystem that spans the entire width of Canada. From Yukon and British Columbia in the west, the boreal wraps through the heart of Canada and extends to the eastern reaches of Newfoundland and Labrador. At 1.4 billion acres—1.1 billion of which is still relatively intact1—the boreal forest region accounts for 58.5 percent of Canada’s total landmass.2

Canada’s boreal forest is the largest remaining intact forest on earth and is one of only five major forest regions globally that still contain significant portions unscathed from development, joining the Russian boreal, the Amazon rainforest, the Congo basin and the tropical rainforests of Borneo and New Guinea. In fact, just three countries—Canada, Russia and Brazil—contain 63.8 percent of the world’s remaining intact forest.3

The Canadian boreal forest consists of 7 major ecozones, each of which comprises its own unique geography, features and species. This ranges from mountainous and alpine habitats (Boreal Cordillera and Taiga Cordillera), heavily deciduous forests (Boreal Plains), heavily coniferous forest (Boreal Shield), to sparse and often wetland-dense forest regions (Taiga Plains, Taiga Shield and Hudson Plains).


1 Analysis produced by Global Forest Watch Canada, 2012.

2 Anielski, M. and S. Wilson. 2009. Counting Canada’s Natural Capital: Assessing the Real Value of Canada’s Boreal Ecosystems. Canadian Boreal Initiative and the Pembina Institute. Ottawa, Ontario and Drayton Valley, Alberta.

3 Thies, C., G. Rosoman, J. Cotter and S. Meaden. 2001. Intact Forest Landscapes: Why it is Crucial to Protect Them from Industrial Exploitation. Greenpeace International. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.