How many trees on Earth are there?
Ever wondered how many trees there are on planet Earth? Adding up all the trees in the world’s forests (plus the trees you have in your back garden) is a mammoth task. So, perhaps it is better to let the scientists take over. Assessing tree density using tree density measures and analysing forest cover everywhere from South America to Siberia, here’s what scientists currently say about the state of tree wealth in the world.
Thinking the figure will be a few billion trees? Well, you might be hugely underestimating it. There are more trees than you’d think. Although our beautiful collection of Trees at Gardeners Dream features hundreds of varieties, there are even more to explore out in nature.
The short answer: a lot!
How many trees are there on Earth? According to estimates by Springer Nature in 2015, there are over 3 trillion trees in the world. The number of trees was calculated by using surveys and satellites to analyse tree coverage and create estimates for the best tree density around the world.
Of course, the world’s trees aren’t spread evenly. Forests account for a vast number of trees, while some desert countries are void of trees altogether. Furthermore, the number of trees is always in flux. It is estimated that 15 billion trees are cut down each year, but many are also planted. While areas like South America have lost tree canopies, forest areas in Europe have been steadily growing since 1982, according to one report.
It’s not as simple as “more trees = better for the planet” either.
Having a variety of tree species is considered far better for the ecosystem than a monoculture of a single tree variety. Furthermore, most trees that are growing in the northern hemisphere are taking over grassland and other biomes of much-needed biodiversity as our climate changes.
What is indisputable, however, is that trees are an important part of planet Earth and from the quaint fruit trees in your British garden to the towering Baobabs of Madagascar, they are all valued.
Breaking down the numbers
At Gardeners Dream, we love a bit of tree talk. From the red leaf on the Canadian flag to the tree varieties that grow on the east coast of Japan, there are many trillion trees to talk about (3 trillion, in fact). Besides the number of trees on Earth, there are also other important questions to ask. Let’s cover those next.
Areas of high tree density
As already established, different countries have varying numbers of trees. The tree population of a country’s land can range from a few trees along the coast to almost half of the land mass or more.
Here is a look at some countries that hold many of the world’s forests:
- Equatorial Guinea – covered in dense tropical rainforests with more than 140 species of wood, plus iconic mangroves on the island of Bioko.
- Canada – the world’s second-largest country is home to the Sugar Maple, Red Oak and hundreds of Conifers that cover around 40% of the total landmass.
- Finland – this country is thought to have the most trees per square kilometre! Finnish forests are full of Pine, Spruce, and Birch Tree species.
- Democratic Republic of Congo – most forests in this large African country are of the rainforest type, including the Congo Forest Basin which is home to trees that reach 50 metres in height.
Across Central America and South America, you will find other countries that have (or had) an area of high tree density. It’s thought that 40% of undiscovered tree species will be found in South America alone.
World’s fastest-growing tree
Typically, trees that grow in tropical forests shoot up fast. Growing along the equator, trees in tropical rainforests are exposed to humidity, rainfall, warm temperatures, and plenty of sun all year round. While slow-growing evergreens in the far northern hemisphere can only draw the energy to grow in summer, rainforests are buzzing with life every single day.
The Guinness World Record for the fastest-growing tree is currently held by a Moluccan Albizia (Falcataria Moluccana). Growing in Malaysia, it was recorded to grow at a rate of 0.82 metres per month. In comparison, some of the fastest-growing trees in the UK like the Beech Tree will manage around 1 metre per year.
World’s oldest tree
There are a few contenders for the world’s oldest tree, including:
- Old Tjikko – the root system of this Norway Spruce in Sweden was carbon-dated and estimated to be 9,565 years old. The trunk of the tree continues to regenerate, which may be how it has survived so long.
- Methuselah – a great Bristlecone Pine that may be 4,855 years old and located near California’s White Mountains. Many trees in this area are ancient!
- Llangernyw Yew – a tree that makes you proud to be British. This Yew Tree (not to be confused with a Yew Hedge) was planted around 4,000 years ago in Llangernyw village, North Wales.
From the Eastern White Cedar to the towering Californian Redwood, many trees live for centuries. Across Europe as well as North and Central America, it is not uncommon to find trees that have been growing for hundreds of years already.
Trees and global development
As human civilization arose, the tree population began to reduce. From clearing space for cattle ranching to fuelling the timber industry and even agribusiness and power generation, there are clear short-term economic benefits to cutting down trees.
Tree resources are to thank for our comfortable homes, transportation, and energy sources – they all began with wood, even though we are attempting to move towards eco-friendly options. Trees are also partially to thank for our water quality and clean air. Anyone who calls Earth home owes tree species quite a lot!
Maintaining our world’s population of trees, from spruce trees to cherry blossom trees, is important for biodiversity. But we should also pay attention to other areas of biodiversity, like grasslands, marshes, and aquatic biomes. Explore our full range of garden plants at Gardeners Dream to find out how you can encourage more biodiversity at home.
Trees and global warming
From publications in the journal Nature to opinion pieces in the Washington Post, our understanding of climate change – and even just how the natural world works – is always developing. Previous estimates put the number of trees on Earth in the billions. It’s only with satellite imaging that we have recently come to the figure of 3 trillion.
With protected areas and entire countries masking the truth about what goes on in terms of pollution and deforestation, who knows what satellite images will one day reveal? For future generations, ensuring a healthy balance of trees and other biomes in the world may improve air quality, at least.
At Gardeners Dream, we can’t make people pay fines for chopping down forests. We can’t enforce a rule of X trees per person either. But we can encourage you to plant a tree or two in your garden. Some native UK trees are just the right size for even the smallest gardens!
Native tree species in the UK
No matter how many trees you know are in the forests of the Earth, nothing beats opening up your curtains in the morning to see a tree in your back garden. Even if you can’t plant a large number of trees or recreate forest cover, you can still bring the UK to life with native tree species. From evergreens with needle-like leaves to fruiting deciduous varieties, there are plenty of native trees to explore.
Silver Birch Tree
The Silver Birch Tree is one of the billion trees in the Northern Hemisphere. It is characterised by peeling white bark on a narrow trunk and cascading foliage. It won’t grow as tall as the rainforest giants in South America, but it will produce catkins to feed wildlife!
This tree variety is native to various forest-covered countries in Europe, including Finland where there are over 72,000 trees per square kilometre. The Silver Birch tree is the official tree of Finland but we love it here in the UK too. It is a deciduous variety that thrives in our climate and offers incredible beauty and elegance from spring to autumn.
Green Beech Tree
Next up is another 1 in 3 trillion trees! The Green Beech Tree is a stately tree that can reach a height of 25 metres once mature. Thankfully, you can prune it to any height so you have the best tree density for your garden. We need more trees like the Green Beech in the UK, as it can live for up to 200 years and produces beech masts that feed squirrels and deer as well as birds.
This tree also grows well in semi-shade areas, while most other trees prefer full sun conditions. So, if it feels like your garden already has a billion trees thriving in it, you probably still have a semi-shaded spot for the Green Beech Tree too.
Common Mountain Ash Tree
The final native British tree that we recommend if you want to contribute to the billion trees already in Europe is the Common Mountain Ash Tree. It may not provide a huge amount of forest cover like a mighty oak tree, but it will support local wildlife and add some vibrancy to your outdoor space.
The Common Mountain Ash Tree is broad-headed with lush green foliage in spring and bright red berries in autumn. It is one of a number of trees that is fully hardy, so even if the weather gets a bit rough or your garden is exposed to the elements, this tree species will survive.
And that concludes our article covering how many trees are in the world! Read our FAQs below to learn a few more facts before you go, and don’t forget to look at our full range of Trees in the UK that are great for growing in British gardens.
Which country has the most trees in the world?
The country with the highest tree population is Russia, with an estimated 642 billion trees of the world’s 3 trillion trees in total. There are many trees in the world, covering more than just ten countries. In fact, most countries have trees and only a handful are completely void of forests, like Greenland.
How many trees are in the Amazon?
It is estimated that in the Amazon forest, there are approximately 390 billion trees of the total 3 trillion trees in the entire world. Furthermore, the Amazon Rainforest is home to at least 16,000 different tree species. This means that the Amazon Rainforest could hold around 50 trees per person on Earth.
How many trees are there in the UK?
How many trees there are depends on deforestation as well as recent planting efforts. It is estimated that the UK has around 3 billion trees. It may not be as many as the tropical forests, but this number of trees is enough to cover around 13% of our total land area.
Are there more trees now than 35 years ago?
Some sources counting the number of trees in the world have estimated that some areas on Earth have more trees than they did 35 years ago – namely Europe. Counting the number of trees isn’t easy, however, so keep in mind that this is only an estimate. Up until eight years ago, estimates put the number in the billions rather than the 3 trillion trees we estimate today.
How many trees is the UK planting?
In the UK, our tree population and forests currently cover around 13% of the land area. How many trees are planted each year is harder to calculate, however, we do know that 15 million trees were planted in the UK between 2011 and 2019 according to the BBC.
How many tree varieties are left?
Of the 3 trillion trees in the world, there are estimated to be 73,300 distinct species currently known. How many trees are yet to be discovered? Well, we don’t know! From your local forest to the rainforests of South America, there are sure to be more tree varieties discovered.