There are Three Trillion Trees Left in the World Today

Elpidio V. Peria
6 September 2015


photo : from Gizmodo site, 2 Sept 2015

The technology news site Gizmodo reported last 2 September that a ground-breaking global census of the world’s trees has been published in the scientific journal Nature and we now have a clearer estimate of how many trees are currently standing in the various kinds of forests in the world and it comes to 3.04 trillion trees, or roughly at 422 trees per person.

Of this number, 1.39 trillion is found in tropical and subtropical forests; 0.74 trillion in boreal regions (these are regions immediately south of the Arctic Circle, mainly in the uppermost Northern Hemisphere, North America, Europe and Asia) and 0.61 trillion in temperate regions.

As Maddie Stone of Gizmodo put it, the good news is that it’s nearly seven times more than the previous global estimate of 400.25 billion and the bad news is that this number of trees is lesser by 46% from the number of trees at the time humans started tilling the land.

Should we be celebrating this number? Even if we have this much trees at present, the study shows that current rates of global forest cover loss stands at 192,000 each year, or a gross loss of 15.3 billion trees yearly.

As mentioned by the study authors led by T.W. Crowther,, “the global map of tree density can facilitate ongoing efforts to understand biogeochemical Earth system dynamics by incorporating ecosystem features that relate to elemental cycling rates.” As an example, the authors note that tree abundance can help explain some of the variation in carbon storage and productivity within ecosystem types. Baseline estimates of tree populations are also critical for projecting population- and community-level tree demographics under current and future climate change scenarios and for guiding local, national, international reforestation/afforestation efforts.

In the Philippine setting, knowing this much number of trees at the global level should not result in us taking a pause from further initiating similar reforestation/afforestation programs like the DENR’s flagship National Greening Program, though a lot needs to be done to make a thorough-going assessment on whether this program has been effective in achieving its stated program objectives.


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