Well, apparently someone has now gone round and counted all the trees in the world. And the answer? It’s a lot . . . loads. In fact, many more than we previously thought. Scientists have now put a figure on it, and, there are over 3 trillion trees on our planet. 3 trillion!
The figure is around eight times as big as the previous best estimate based on satellite images, which counted 400 billion at most. This means that there are upwards of 400 trees for every human.
The study was produced by Thomas Crowther from Yale University, who combined ground survey data with satellite pictures. “All of the information that went into our models was generated from people standing on the ground counting numbers of trees in a given area. And so we could relate this information to what the satellites are telling us,” says Crowther. “My fear is that a lot of people might think, ‘OK, well, there’s loads of trees, so who cares about the environment, there’s plenty left! No worries!’ What I’d highlight is that it’s not like we’ve discovered new trees,” he continues. “We’ve just generated a new number that will help us to understand the global forest.”
Dr Martin Lukac from the University of Reading was still not sure we were near an accurate count. “The previous estimate of trees in the world was 400 billion. The new estimate is three trillion large trees. There are so many margins of error in this study that the real number could be anything between the two – or even 10 times higher,” he said.
However, what is abundantly clear from the study is the impact humans have on the number of trees on Earth. Human activity has led to the loss of nearly half of the world’s trees and we are losing around 15bn every year. “The scale of the human impact [we found] was astronomical. The number of trees cut down is almost 3tn since the start of civilisation,” said Crowther.
Based on this new data, the UN’s ‘Billion Tree Campaign’ may soon be going through a major brand overhaul as they upscale their efforts