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Exhaustive Study Gets to the Root of World’s Tree Population

posted: 09/02/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Forest and rays of sunshine
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There are a whopping 3.04 trillion trees on the planet -- or 422 trees per human being -- according to a Yale-led study recently published in the journal Nature.

Although that might sound like a lot of trees, human-driven deforestation has had a staggering impact on the world's flora. Researchers estimate that the number of trees on the planet has nearly halved since the dawn of human civilization. More than 15 billion additional trees are lost to human-related causes each year.

Presently, tree population density is highest in sub-Arctic areas of Russia, Europe and North America. Nearly half of the world's tress, however, are found tropical forests.

The research team utilized satellite imagery, previous peer-reviewed studies and density information from 400,000 forest plots worldwide to estimate the tree population. The only prior attempt to estimate the world's tree population fell short, landing at only 400 billion.

Related: Excess Trees in Japan are Harming the Environment

Study lead author Thomas Crowther, from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, hopes that his research will be used to prevent further deforestation and preserve existing forestland.

"This study highlights how much more effort is needed if we are to restore healthy forests worldwide," he 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."

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