A new study suggests that there are 3.04 trillion trees on Earth or 400 trees for every human, but while that may seem quite a lot, study authors believe that before deforestation began that number was nearly double.
The research team estimates that 3 trillion trees were cut down by man in the meantime.
The recent findings beat past estimates that had shown there were 400 billion trees on the planet. Scientists explained that in their research they took into account only the trees that are at least 10 cm across at breast height.
Scientists also explained why previous estimates were wrong. Past studies had relied only on satellite data. Yet, satellites can only tell whether an area is forested, but they fail to provide an exact number of the individual trees in the region.
Researchers said that trees were essential to life on Earth. Besides providing a home to animals and plants, filtering water, and preventing land slides, they also absorb greenhouse gas emissions.
About one half of those emissions are absorbed by nature, while from this half 25 percent is absorbed by the tree population, argued Sassan Saatchi, a carbon emission expert from the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, California, who was not involved in the study.
The recent study is based on satellite data and more than 400,000 ground-based measurements preformed by people who actually counted the trees in a certain region. The ground-based measurements were taken from federal and state groups that manage national forests in 21 countries from four continents.
JPL researchers combined satellite data with ground-based data to create a computer model that estimates just how many trees are in an exact location. Saatchi noted that the exact number of trees out there is not that important for scientists and governments. The only thing that is important is tree distribution and whether those tree populations are threatened by urban development and man-made activities.
Dr.Thomas Crowther, the senior author of the study and researcher at Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, noted that nearly 43 percent of trees (1.4 trillion) cover the tropical and subtropical areas, 24 percent are located in northern latitudes across Russia, Canada and, China, while 21 percent can be found in temperate zones including the U.S. and E.U.
Crowther disclosed that his team based their estimates of how many trees were cut down by humans on the estimates provided by the United Nations Environment Program. Also, they used those estimates to find that we lose 15 billion trees every year, while only five billions are being restored.
Image Source: Pexels
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