Trees for carbon storage, nutrient cycling, water and air quality, and human services

Photo credit: Nature World News

A team of researchers recently mapped tree populations worldwide. (Photo : Crowther, et al)

Boreal Forests and Climate: 3 Trillion Trees in World

By Samantha Mathewson

Picture 3 trillion trees. See? You can’t. We’d wager that none of us can see the forest or the trees at that rate. However, a recent study that mapped the world’s trees, including great swaths of forest in northern and equatorial regions, found that they totaled around 3 trillion.  This is roughly seven and a half times more than previously estimated. However, according to recent mapping, these numbers still represent a 46 percent decline in worldwide tree population since the beginning of human life on Earth, as a release noted.

The researchers used satellite images, forest inventories and supercomputer technologies. They collected tree density information for more than 400,000 forests worldwide.

“Trees are among the most prominent and critical organisms on Earth, yet we are only recently beginning to comprehend their global extent and distribution,” Thomas Crowther, lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), said in a news release. “They store huge amounts of carbon, are essential for the cycling of nutrients, for water and air quality, and for countless human services. Yet you ask people to estimate, within an order of magnitude, how many trees there are and they don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what I would have guessed, but I was certainly surprised to find that we were talking about trillions.”

Read the full article: Nature World News


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.