Earth Has Lost 3 Trillion Trees Since Its Formation, Study Reveals

Posted: Sep 3 2015, 2:09am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


Earth has Lost 3 Trillion Trees Since its Formation, Study Reveals
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There are around 3.04 trillion trees on earth right now. Almost the same number of trees have been cut down since the start of human civilization, according to a new study.

Have you ever tried to find out how many trees we have on our planet? They certainly appear too many in numbers.

A new study from the researchers of Yale University provides the exact answer to it. There are around 3.04 trillion trees on the Earth. That’s about 400 trees for every person.

Of these trees, more than 1 trillion are found in the tropical and subtropical forests, about 0.74 trillion trees in cold temperate regions while 0.61 trillion trees exist in the regions with moderate temperatures.

The most devastating thing is that we have lost the same amount of trees over the years. There could be twice as many trees on earth today if humans had not cleared the forests.

“The number of trees cut down is almost 3 trillion since the start of human civilization. That is an astronomical figure.” Lead author Thomas Crowther, a forestry and environmental researcher at Yale University said.

“The scale of human impact is astonishing. Obviously we expected humans would have a prominent role but I didn’t expect that it would come out as the strongest control on tree density.” 

The previous estimate of total tree population was 400 million which was determined by using satellite data. It was a rough count because when satellite captures an image peering down from the space, it accurately detects the forested areas on earth but, it cannot count every individual tree. 

The new study incorporated satellite imagery and used 429,775 ground-sourced measurements of tree density to create computer models. This means, people counted the number of trees in a given area.

To determine how many trees were on the Earth previously, researchers outlined a new map of tree density, which helped identify how many trees were within the specific area. 

Forests harbor a large proportion of global biodiversity and provide countless ecosystem services such as water quality control, wood stocks and carbon sequestration. So, they need to be preserved at any cost. The study will also help find out exactly how many trees are required to be grown to balance out the situation.

“They want to generate forests on global scale. But they had absolutely no baseline information about how many trees they needed to plant to do that,” Crowther said.

Based on the projected tree densities, it has been estimated that over 15 billion trees are cut down each year by humans and only 5 billion are grown in place of them. So, they need to grow back around 10 million annually.

The study was published in Nature.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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