How Many Trees Are Cut Down Each Year (And How to Slow it Down)
We rely on the world’s forests to fulfill many environmental roles, such as maintaining biodiversity, providing renewable raw materials and energy, and protecting water and land resources. However, they are often damaged by agricultural and urban expansion, fire, and general human involvement. But exactly how many trees are cut down each year and for what purpose? Is there anything individuals can do to prevent this massive deforestation?
How Many Trees Are Cut Down Each Year?
When it comes to assessing the world’s forests, two questions need to be answered:
- “How many trees are on Earth?” and
- “How many trees are cut down each year?”
A study published on September 2, 2015 in the journal Nature suggests these answers: 3 trillion and 15.3 billion. The research’s results are based on a combination of on-the-ground inventories, satellite imagery, and computer modeling. Previous estimate said Earth still has around 400 billion trees, so the 3 trillion figure is quite a jump. The wide discrepancy is accounted for by the more comprehensive technology used by the team.
The research broke down tree cover by country, finding the highest density in Russia (with 642-698 billion trees). Canada followed in second place (318-361 billion trees), then Brazil (302-338 billion), the U.S. (222-228 billion), and China (140-178 billion). The highest density in terms of the amount of forest cover was registered in Finland. This small country has more than 72,000 trees per square kilometer, followed by Slovenia, Sweden, and Taiwan.
Rate of Deforestation
According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), we are losing around 33 million acres of forestland annually around the globe. In addition, this massive loss is responsible for 20 percent of human-generated greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
The main reasons for the global deforestation we are experiencing include urbanization, mining and oil exploitation, wood and paper products, wildfires, and acid rain. Secondary causes include supplying clear land for crops, cattle and housing, as well as wood timber for wood and paper products.
Trees are being felled down at an alarming rate. More businesses around the world are pushing their way through forests in order to gain land for commercial or industrial purposes. Our planet’s environment is being sacrificed for profit. Deforestation has serious effects on water and air pollution, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and ultimately, climate change.
According to current rates of tree cover loss, the number of trees worldwide has dropped 46 percent since the dawn of agriculture 12,000 years ago. Still, over 15 billion trees are felled every year. In addition to the significant implications it has for the planet, this destruction also impacts human well-being.
How Can Forests Influence Climate Change?
Forests are important in our fight against climate change mainly because they can influence the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. When forests grow, they become giant carbon sinks, removing it from the atmosphere and absorbing it through wood, leaves and soil. Forests can store carbon over an extended period of time, but when they burn, the carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Overall, estimations show the world’s forests store more carbon than the entire atmosphere.
Practical Solutions to Deforestation
Having fewer forests endangers the sustainability of our planet. Therefore, a lot of eco actions and measures are being adopted to curtail deforestation. Such initiatives move towards repairing the damage caused for the past century, saving our natural environment. Evidently, the simplest solution would be to just stop the cutting down of trees. However, a more workable solution is to implement proper forest management strategies that maintain an undisturbed environment.
1. More Green Initiatives
Green business focuses on reuse and recycling. We can immeasurably reduce deforestation through green methods of resource utilization. Particularly, green initiatives concern with reducing the use of artificial items, reusing items instead of throwing them away, and recycling more. Wood, paper, and plastic waste are all tightly linked to the destruction of forests.
When we focus on recycling plastics, paper, and wood products – as well as practicing responsible consumerism – we ensure we are less dependent on natural resources and trees. Less demand for these products will also reduce government and company imports of raw-materials from forest regions across the world.
2. Law & Regulations
In addition to green initiatives, extensive efforts to stop forest destruction can also be complemented by laws and regulation at organizational and governmental levels. People become more aware of deforestation consequences, which leads to a higher focus on the ways immediate economic gains sacrifice the long-term well-being of the environment.
Adopting this attitude will discourage illegal logging for timber and other non-renewable resources like palm oil and rubber. Stopping deforestation and conserving the natural vegetation requires rules, regulations, and laws from organizations and governments. Enforcing forest preservation policies – such as laws on farming, timber, wood fuel, and land use – will limit deforestation.
But what about what you can do personally? Here are a few suggestions that allow you to be friendlier towards forest and the environment in general.
3. Plant Trees
Reforestation is the replanting or restoration or forests that have been damaged by felling activities or fire. It should not be viewed as a one-time thing, but more like and ongoing process required to preserving the diminishing forests of the world. Individuals, communities, and organizations can all be active actors in this initiative. In urban centers and local communities, efforts to plant trees usually take place within city parks, around market areas, or in game/wildlife reserves. Planting trees, therefore, qualifies as a restorative measure of deforestation.
4. Go Paperless
We have become too dependent on printing everything, whether we’re at work or at home. In spite of the fact that technology allows us to utilize computers (files and folders) to keep our work organized, we still have the lazy habit of printing all the documents we come across. And many of us think that if no-one sees us using the printer day in-day out, it’s not that bad. But there you have it: Now you know it’s wrong and you’re hurting the planet’s forests.
5. Be Mindful of the Meat Products You Buy
If they’re sourced from land where forests have been cleared, stay away from it. However, this measure requires you spend some extra time and care reading the product’s labels. Also, you’re going to have to do some serious research beforehand so you can recognize which multinational companies produce these pre-packaged supermarket items with unsustainable methods.