Since man arrived on Earth, the number of trees has decreased by 46%. Over 7 million hectares of forest are lost every year due to deforestation.
It has been estimated that about 6.3 trillion trees existed before humans. Historians also estimated that the forests spread over 6 billion hectares of land pre-human civilization.
Today, we have roughly 3 trillion trees in the world.
There were only 70 million trees or so 100 years ago.
The US during the 1920s experienced serious loss in forest cover as the timber industry thrived, with new developments and improvements in the construction and recreation industry, causing deforestation to be rampant.
With poor forest management laws and programs, nearly two-thirds of the American forests were removed during this era because of deforestation, with no replacements administered.
To compensate for this great loss, the US has been steadily replacing these forests since the 1940s. Now, the country has two-thirds of the total number of trees in the year 1600 according to The North American Forest Commission.
The east coast, where most deforestation occurred, was heavily focused on reforestation. It has been estimated that the number of trees in the area has doubled in the last 70 years.
Are there more trees now than 100 years ago?
Yes, there are more trees now than 100 years ago.
Despite the 400% increase in the use of trees, more laws and programs on proper forest management have been implemented by most countries to encourage tree growth globally.
According to a paper published in the science journal Nature, the tree cover worldwide has grown by over 2.24 million square kilometers – just as big as Alaska and Texas combined!
In addition, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that the forest growth rate in the US has more than quadrupled since 100 years ago. This is also thanks to the increasing number of national forests.
The two national forests in Alaska, among many other national forests, have significantly helped in minimizing deforestation in the country.
Increasing tree growth is not the only thing the world is aiming for. Governments from all over the world are also implementing tree conservation programs to further improve the protection of the remaining trees.
How many trees are there in the world right now?
There are approximately 3.04 trillion trees in the world right now. Considering the world’s current population of 7 billion people, this means that every person has roughly 422 trees.
Credit goes to Postdoctoral Fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences from 2012 to 2015, Thomas Crowler, for giving the world this information regarding the updated global number of trees.
Based only on satellite imaging technology, a lazy estimate of 400 billion trees was initially made. However, Crowther and his team were able to get better and more accurate numbers.
The final estimation was finally obtained after two years of methods that included more than 400,000 ground-based counts in forestry inventories and scientific literature for every continent except Antarctica.
The countries with the most trees
It is most likely that the larger a country is, the more trees it is to have.
Russia, Canada, Brazil, the USA, and China – the world’s biggest countries distribute almost 50% of the world’s forests.
About two-thirds of this comes from five other countries including The Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Australia, Peru, and India.
Here are the top 10 countries with the most trees in total:
The country with the most trees – Russia – has a total of 642 billion trees. It has been estimated that roughly 45% of the country’s landmass is covered by forests.
The country has so many trees that some forests are considered ‘illegal’ when they occupy vast expanses of land in the country.
Russia requires 10% of its land to be free of forests. There are designated regions known as ‘agricultural land’ wherein landowners should keep them forest-free to avoid paying fines.
However, despite this legal opposition, most of these areas are forgotten and have been covered in trees.
Being the second-largest country in the world, Canada is also the second country to have the most trees. With a total of 318 billion trees, its forests occupy 40% of the region.
The forests of Canada represent 30% of the global forest cover. Most of the country’s trees are Spruce trees. Pines, Sugar Maple, and the Eastern White Cedar are also very common in the country.
Brazil approximately has a total of 302 billion trees. It is home to the world’s largest forest, which is the Amazon.
Deforestation in the country remains a major threat, causing numerous tree species to become endangered.
The USA has approximately 228 billion trees in total. Roughly 30% of the country is covered with forests, with Alaska being the most forested state.
The forested watersheds provide clean, pollutant-free, drinking-quality water to more than 55% of the US population.
The US also hosts more than 1000 tree species. It is home to several of the world’s most famous trees like the oldest, tallest, and largest trees.
Its national tree, the Oak, symbolizes beauty, diversity, and strength.
Covering nearly 23% of the country’s land, China has 140 billion trees in total. It is home to the world’s fastest-growing tree at 1.5 inches an hour.
Deforestation is also rampant in China due to rapid expansions and developments. However, the Chinese government has been planting more than 66 billion trees in an attempt to increase the world’s forests by 10%.
This project was initiated and launched in 1978, called the “Great Green Wall Project”. Even though the project has received mixed reviews, it aims to continue until 2050.
The Democratic Republic of Congo
This country has a total of 101 billion trees. DR Congo is home to more than 600 species of trees.
The Savannah forests occupy a large part of the 100-120 million hectares dedicated to the country’s dense forests. Additionally, 26 million hectares are protected areas.
Forests cover almost 51% of Indonesia. The country has a total of 81 billion trees, with more than 4000 tree species.
The most diverse and carbon-dense form of the forest takes up 50% of the forests in Indonesia. Approximately 120 hardwood species are used for commercial purposes.
77 billion of the world’s trees belong to Australia. The country’s forests occupy nearly 101 million hectares of its land.
Most trees in Australia are Eucalyptus trees or gum trees which have 2800 different species. Almost 80% of the trees in Australian forests are Eucalypts.
Just about 67 million hectares of Peru are forested according to the UN FAO. A little more than half of the 20th largest country in the world is covered by forests at 53.1%.
The second-largest amazon jungle, the Peruvian Amazonia, is located in Peru.
With a total of 36 billion trees, the forests in India occupy approximately 21.6% of its land.
Despite the growing population of the country with more than 1 billion people (that’s only 30 trees per person), India promises to improve their forest coverage by 95 million hectares in 2030.
In 2017 alone, 66 million trees were planted within 12 hours.
The countries with the most tree density
The tree density of a country is measured by the number of trees per square kilometer of the total area of the country.
‘Tree wealth’ is not just measured by the total number of trees a country has but is also measured using tree density.
Here are the top 6 countries with the most tree density:
It was discovered that Finland has the densest tree cover than any other dense forest in the world. It has a tree density of 72,644 trees per square kilometer.
Finland is the most forested country in the continent of Europe with more than 22 billion trees occupying 70% of its land.
The country plants 150 million trees a year which is why it has been presumed that its tree density will increase over time.
Sweden has a tree density of 69,161 trees per square kilometer. It has nearly doubled its forests in the last 100 years, making 70% of the country covered by forests.
Sweden is 10% of the world’s supply of timber, pulp, and paper. The country plants 380 million trees every year to continue its global supply and to increase tree growth.
Slovenia has a tree density of 71,131 trees per square kilometer. Forests cover 60% of Slovenia.
The Chamois tree and the Linden tree, the two national symbols, are abundant in the country.
Taiwan may not exactly be one of the largest countries in the world, but its tree density is 62,975 trees per square kilometer, taking up 60% of the whole country.
Most of the forests in Taiwan are primeval and protected due to a law that was passed in 1991 which served as a complete ban on natural logging in the country.
French Guiana has approximately 60,326 trees per square kilometer as its tree density.
Home to at least 1500 species of trees, French Guiana is also known to be the host of one-fifth of the world’s high biodiversity wilderness.
The country’s population is only 294,071 people, and all of them reside in the metropolitan area of the state capital, Cayenne. 98.9% of the country is covered in virgin forests.
With a tree density of 61,791 trees per square kilometer, 2.6 million hectares of the country is forested.
Roughly 98% of Equatorial Guinea is covered by forests, which provide most of the services and sustenance to its hundreds of thousands of people.
Are we running out of trees?
The planet is not exactly running out of trees. Even though we do lose 15 billion trees each year, more countries from all over the world have taken on reforestation and tree planting initiatives to protect the existence of trees in the coming years.
Also, more people and big corporations have been planting more trees now than ever, especially with global warming greatly affecting the survival of humanity.
Considering that countries like the US have experienced an increase in the number of trees in the last 100 years, the planet might have more trees now compared to the last few centuries.
All of this does not mean, however, that the Earth can’t run out of trees. Studies show that we have been losing trees faster than ever despite the tree replanting movement and reforestations.
At this rate, if deforestation is not minimized through strict laws and programs, the world might run out of trees as the demand for timber rapidly increases.
How many trees will there be in 2050?
According to a study by the Center for Global Development, the planet could lose more than a million square miles to deforestation in 2050 should it remain uncontrolled and unchecked.
Out of the 3 trillion trees we have as of today, the Earth could lose 1 trillion by 2050. While 2 trillion trees will still sound like a lot, this great environmental loss will greatly impact future generations.
Furthermore, the demand for more land, agriculture, and forest products will be a key driver to more deforestation as the world’s population increases over time. This is most likely to happen as well in middle-income countries.
Small countries and middle-economy countries are predicted to have less than 1% of forest cover by the year 2050 if deforestation continues to be rampant.
The good news, however, is that as of 2020, it has been found that the rate of deforestation has dropped in most countries.
If the strict implementation of forest policies continues to effectively reduce deforestation globally, then the number of trees in the world could increase by 2050.