Trees are an essential part of many of Earth’s ecosystems. They filter oxygen, provide valuable materials, and act as homes for millions of animal species. While there may only be one or two in your backyard, the number of total trees existing throughout the world is truly staggering.
There are an estimated 3.04 trillion trees in the world. That’s about 400 for every human. This figure is way up from the estimate of 400 billion trees that was made just a few years ago. While this may seem like an unimaginable amount, 12,000 years ago the world actually had around twice as many, a whopping 6 trillion trees. Unfortunately, due to logging and agriculture, the Earth is now losing close to 10 billion trees each year.
Of the 3.04 trillion trees that exist around the world, about 1.4 trillion are located near the Equator in tropical or subtropical forests. 390 billion of these belong to the Amazon, the largest rainforest in the world. The Amazon is home to over 16,000 species of tree, 27% of the world’s 60,000 total species. However, just 277 of these species make up for nearly half the total Amazonian population. The most common tree in the Amazon is the Euterpe precatoria, a tall, thin palm tree with a population close to 5.2 billion throughout the rainforest. Conversely, the sparsest 11,000 species of trees all number less than 1 million and face the serious threat of extinction as deforestation continues to ravage the region.
The largest forest in the world exists far to the north amongst a less bountiful ecosystem. The Great Boreal Forests span the Arctic circle in Canada, Russia, and Scandinavia. These forests contain approximately 750 billion trees, nearly ¼ of the world’s total. Russia’s boreal forest, the “taiga” is the largest forest in the world, stretching over 4.6 million square miles. The taiga is, coincidentally, larger than any other single country in the world, including Canada which has an enormous boreal forest of its own. The Canadian boreal forest is over 1 million square miles, dwarfing all, but six countries in the world. Contrary to the Amazon, however, these boreal forests contain only 6 major species of tree.
The world’s largest forests are reflected on a list that ranks the countries with the most trees. The ten countries with the most trees in billions:
Also worth noting is the density of trees by country. Russia has the advantage of being the largest country in the world by a wide margin, but it doesn’t have half as many trees per square kilometer as Finland. The country with the highest density of trees is Finland, with approximately 72,644 trees per square kilometer. Finland has ten times as many trees per capita than the world average, with over 4,000 for every Finnish resident. The country in the world with the most trees per capita is Suriname with over 15,000 for every resident.
The country with the lowest density of trees is Western Sahara, a territory on the west coast of Africa that consists mostly of flatland desert. Western Sahara bears less than one tree per square kilometer. On average, every four square kilometers of Finland contain more trees than the entirety of Western Sahara.
Countries with the densest tree cover in trees per square kilometer:
Honorable Mention: The territory of French Guiana in South America has 60,326 trees per square kilometer, but is technically a territory of France (21,956), which weighs it down considerably. Additionally, if French Guiana were its own independent nation, it would have the highest number of trees per capita at over 20,000.