Deforestation, mostly in the tropics, is a major issue because it reduces biodiversity and affects water and soil quality. It also has a direct impact on climate change because it involves the permanent conversion of forested land – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says deforestation currently accounts for about 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
Tree harvesting is not deforestation as long as the area is replanted or allowed to regenerate naturally. In Canada, where public lands that are harvested must be regenerated promptly, the deforestation rate is virtually zero.
Illegal logging is a principal cause of deforestation abroad and a direct contributor to climate change and loss of biodiversity. Canada's strict laws and regulations, backed by an efficient compliance and enforcement system, ensure its forest products are from legal and sustainable sources. An independent international study in 2004 found Canada has virtually no illegal logging. Canada has undertaken efforts to oppose illegal logging elsewhere in the world.