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How many trees does the Earth have?

by Coffee Table Science
We have always been told about the importance of forestation, the need for trees and how deforestation is causing climate change. Many of us are willing to and also actively participating to revert climate change.

Keep your world clean and green. 

Save trees,Save the environment!! 

Clean city,Green city!! 

To have a good scenery, there should be little greenery! 

are everywhere and we are all eager to see a greener Earth. But like any other goal that we chase, shouldn’t we know where we are starting and what are we aiming at? How many trees does the Earth have and is there a tree census done every decade.
Recently, New York City took up the initiative to map and catalogue every tree on every street of the city. Called, TreesCount!2015, it is a crowd sourced program, looking for the task to be completed through voluntreers. If you would like to be one, you can sign up here. But other than a few instances where cities or organizations such as Terracon or SmartSurvey have tried to use GPS/GIS based systems to carry out a tree census, there are no real global or even country wide efforts made to know the number of trees on our planet.
Estimates of tree have always been made though, with some claiming that the Earth has 400 billion trees. With a population exceeding 7 billion, we have a tree to human ratio of around 60:1. A recent study used satellite imagery and combined it with actual tree counts in various places on the globe and come up with a better estimate that there are actually three trillion trees on our planet, taking the tree to human ratio to an amazing 422:1. 
Thanks to the revision, the Earth might look much greener to you suddenly, but the truth is that thanks to deforestation these forest covers are declining rapidly. Consider the image (courtesy Nature .com) that shows the rapid decline of forest area in South East Asia alone.
Declining forest area in South East Asia. Photo credit: Nature.com
The estimate from T.W.Crowther and colleagues estimates that since the dawn of human civilization (200,000 years), the Earth has lost 45.8% of its tree cover. As per their current estimate, we are cutting down 15 billion trees annually and at this rate we would deforest the entire planet in 200 years! Not very far is it. 
If you know someone who still needs a reason to save the planet, show him/her this post and if the person is still not convinced, there is no need to spend more time on him. You are better off using your time for something more useful.


Crowther, T., Glick, H., Covey, K., Bettigole, C., Maynard, D., Thomas, S., Smith, J., Hintler, G., Duguid, M., Amatulli, G., Tuanmu, M., Jetz, W., Salas, C., Stam, C., Piotto, D., Tavani, R., Green, S., Bruce, G., Williams, S., Wiser, S., Huber, M., Hengeveld, G., Nabuurs, G., Tikhonova, E., Borchardt, P., Li, C., Powrie, L., Fischer, M., Hemp, A., Homeier, J., Cho, P., Vibrans, A., Umunay, P., Piao, S., Rowe, C., Ashton, M., Crane, P., & Bradford, M. (2015). Mapping tree density at a global scale Nature, 525 (7568), 201-205 DOI: 10.1038/nature14967

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