Global Deforestation Rate Has Fallen by Half Says New Report

And there are far more trees than researchers previously thought - more than 3 trillion



Every five years, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issues its Forest Resources Assessment. The latest report finds that even has world population has increased and global economy has expanded, the overall rate of deforestation has slowed significantly since 1990. From the report: 

Over the past 25 years forest area has changed from 4.1 billion ha to just under 4 billion ha, a decrease of 3.1 percent. the rate of global forest area change has slowed by more than 50 percent between 1990 and 2015 (table1). This change results from a combination of reduced forest conversion rates in some countries and ncreased forest area expansion in others. It appears that net forest area change has stabilized over the past decade. This is an important development given the fact that wood removals in 2011 are about 200 million cubic meters higher per year than in 1990 and human populations have grown during this period by about 37 percent.

Annual forest change from 2010 to 2015 demonstrates positive change: a reduction in forest loss rates. …

The decrease in net forest loss rates in the tropics and subtropics, combined with stable or moderate increases in the temperate and boreal zones, suggests that the rate of forest loss will probably continue to decrease in coming years.

Below are charts listing the ten countries in which forests are expanding most and the ten that are losing the most.


So how many trees are there on the earth anyway? As the Washington Post reported last week, a new study in the journal Nature answers this question:

In a blockbuster study released Wednesday in Nature, a team of 38 scientists finds that the planet is home to 3.04 trillion trees, blowing away the previously estimate of 400 billion. That means, the researchers say, that there are 422 trees for every person on Earth.

However, in no way do the researchers consider this good news. The study also finds that there are 46 percent fewer trees on Earth than there were before humans started the lengthy, but recently accelerating, process of deforestation….

The study shows that trees are most prevalent in the tropics and subtropics – home to 1.39 trillion trees – but that boreal or northern forests contain another .74 trillion, and temperate forests contain .61 trillion. It also suggests, rather surprisingly, that boreal and tundra forests often have a greater tree density than tropical ones.

The Post article seems to imply that fewer trees is necessarily a "bad thing," but where would we humans put our farms and cities if all of the forest primeval remained?

Interestingly, the FAO forest assessment finds that the global rate of deforestation is decelerating, not accelerating.

The researchers in Nature believe that on net humans are cutting down 10 billion trees per year. At that rate it would take over 300 years to cut all of the world's forests down. For those worried about deforestation, the good news reported in my new book, The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century, is that humanity has likely reached peak farmland. As a consequence, forests around the world will be expanding by hundreds of millions of hectares over the next several decades.

NEXT: Feds on Asset Forfeiture Reform: It's Too Much Trouble to Track Convictions Before Taking People's Stuff

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  1. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, soon to be at odds with the IPCC. Do we want more forests or not?!?

  2. OT: This is from yesterday so maybe old news: Turkey invades Northern Iraq – Kurdish territory

    How long before every “ally” of the US in the ME is completely decimated?

    1. I wouldn’t fuck with the Kurds. They know how to fight, and they will.

      1. I wouldn’t fuck with the Kurds. They know how to fight, and they will.

        They are excellent light infantry. What they don’t have, because we have made damn sure they don’t have it, is heavy weapons.

        Light infantry will have a very difficult time defeating a determined and well-supplied force with heavy weapons.

        The Turks have a long history of cheerful brutality and genocide. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Turks and ISIS between them ground down the Kurds.

        1. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Turks and ISIS between them ground down the Kurds.

          I think that’s the goal.

      2. “I wouldn’t fuck with the Kurds. They know how to fight, and they will.”


        Seriously at least the cheese eating surrender monkeys of France actually have a county.

        The Kurds….

        Not so much.

        In fact I think they might have the record for most lost wars to fallen empires in the history of the world.

  3. leftists never understand. we are getting more trees not because of regulation, but because of economic development. That’s the best way to preserve the environment

    its like trying to convince them that if you want more trees, you should use more paper

  4. The Post article seems to imply that fewer trees is necessarily a “bad thing,” but where would we humans put our farms and cities if all of the forest primeval remained?

    Shut up, Ron. We should all be living in caves and hunting wild game with spears. It’s what Gaia intended for us.

    Oh, and never mind the fact that Indians, long before the white man arrived, burned forests to ground in order to chase out game and clear land.

  5. I was assured that there would be no more forests by the year 2000. Therefore I call BS – the deforestation stopped when we cut down the last of the forests in 1999 and the Lorax high tailed it out of here.

    1. I realize they’re kids books, but Dr. Seuss’ political messages are pretty terrible. The Lorax and The Butter Battle Book are obnoxiously simple in their assessment of environmentalism and the Cold War, respectively.

      1. On Beyond Zebra is the only Suess book worth reading.

        1. I can think of a few others. Oh Say Can You Say is my favorite, I think. There are lots of others that are just cool drawings and fun with language, which is good.

          1. Fuck that book after two cocktails.

          2. Fox in socks, bro.

  6. What is it, Ron Bailey day on Hit & Run?

  7. Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

    Is there more than one Venezuela now? Also, they can pull this crap but “Myanmar” doesn’t get a “(Burma)” qualifier?

    1. Actually, there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to why they picked the names they did. Vietnam and China don’t get special treatment, but Laos and Tanzania do for whatever strange reason.

      1. It all stems from PC. “Burma” is verboten in the new Myanmar so we don’t say it anymore. You are right that the rest of the sucking up is inconsistent.

    2. I do see a “(Burma)” often enough in stories about Myanmar. I like to call it “Burma”.

      1. Why we should truckle to brutal military dictatorships on things like naming is a mystery to me.

        If it was up to me, all official references to Burma would be Burma (Former British Colony, and look how its gone to shit since they left).

        1. The whole thing is stupid even setting aside the junta. Germans don’t call themselves German nor their country Germany.

        2. And Rhodesia, too.

          1. I hear the last Rhodesian is on death row now.

            1. The Last Rhodesian starring Macaulay Culkin

        3. My favorite is when we have to call Taiwan “Chinese Taipei” or China haz a sad.

      2. I still call it Constantinople. And Bombay. And Mt. Denali.

        1. Leningrad? St. Petersburg? Leningrad?

            1. Volgograd!

    3. You only call it that in a respectful sort of wide eyed commie wonder. Otherwise, it’s that commie shithole, Venezuela.

      1. That’s what I thought, but I would expect the same treatment of China and Vietnam. Of course, both of those countries are No True Scotsmen to dyed-in-the-wool communists, so who knows.

        1. I remember when I was a kid growing up, the adults always referred to China as ‘Red China’.

          1. My father was just released from a Red Chinese prison.

  8. That’s a lot of damn trees. It is interesting how low the earlier estimates for tree numbers were.

    1. ” It is interesting how low the earlier estimates for tree numbers were.’

      Every single time environmentalists trot out a number, it almost always turns out to be off by order of magnitude. This shouldn’t be surprising at all.

      The last one that the media seemed to shrug off was the revelation that the “”Great Pacific Garbage Patch”” – a concentration of plastic garbage “Twice the size of texas” – …. was actually either non-existent… or, under *worst case scenarios*…. was at best….1% the size of texas…

      ….and even then….

      ….well, it turns out that the stuff they’ve been modeling as ‘clogging the ocean’? Is being digested by micro-organisms. So maybe it doesn’t exist at all? Whoops.

      But hey! thats no reason to not apply the same idiotic modeling presumptions to *every other environmental issue!* Systems aren’t that complex, really.

      1. It wasn’t just environmentalists with the wrong estimates on trees. Those were the estimates of forestry experts.

        Seems like the garbage patch has been in the news again lately. The story from OSU is 4 years old and the other more recent. So I don’t know what to believe (though I’d be more inclined to believe OSU). In any case, it doesn’t seem like such a huge deal to me. The Pacific is a whole lot bigger than Texas.

        1. It’s not really a “garbage patch”. It’s like 1oz of plastic for every 100 acres of water in some places.

        2. The “debunking” matters nothing to the people promoting the bullshit. Greenpeace, for one, is still promoting the “Texas”-size benchmark, despite what they claim to be describing has changed subtly from “garbage”-patch…to a “vortex” (which is just saying, “if there were trash, this is where it would be…even though there’s uh…. nothing there…”)

          In the last few years, the process of biological plastic degradation has gotten plenty of new evidence… and of course, the way any information is used by the enviros?…OMG PANIC

      2. The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” washed up on shore and is known as “Sunny Southern California”!

      3. I was talking with a CAGW alarmist the other day, and he claimed that AGW was already causing a mass species extinction event. I let him explain how the consensus of science was that about ten thousand species go extinct every year. Then I asked him to name ten species that went extinct last year. Unable to name any, I asked for ten species that went extinct in the last ten years. One species in the past ten years? At that point, I wasn’t asking for the entire list, but just 0.001% of what the scientific consensus claimed. Apparently one can be absolutely confident of mass species extinction without knowing a single species that has gone extinct.

        1. Cecil the lion. He’s extinct.

      4. What are we waiting for. Let’s find that patch and seastead that bitch.

  9. “There is trouble in the forests… there is…”… wait, what? Rush is voting for Hillary?


  10. So, it is reported this week that scientific estimates on the number of trees is off by an order of magnitude? It would seem that there us lot don’t know for sure about.

  11. Gay marriage and asset forfeiture are some how involved in this. I just know it.

    1. Uhm, point of order. Marriage (gay or straight) IS asset forfeiture.

      1. Depends which party you are.

      2. Divorce is, at least.

        1. There’s two layers. Speaking as a straight male, I lost a LOT of stuff in the merger. I’ve heard similar stories from other men.

          Comedian: When my girlfriend moved in, all my stuff was *pfff* gone! I felt like one of those flood victims… “It all happened so fast!”

    2. How many of these trees were cut down to make pasture land for Chipotle’s meat animals?

      1. I thought squirrels and raccoons liked the forest.

    3. If two gay trees get married in the forest and no one is around to hear it, do the Feds still steal their shit?

      1. If they’re Queen Palms, they’re a protected class.

        1. *rising tone*
          What about rentTree?!?

      2. Only if a squirrel refuses to make a cake.

    4. Don’t forget the butt sex and Mexican variables, they are also part of the algorithm.

      1. Also, is a host tree allowed to reject a graft? It so, how long after the graft has been placed?

        Are arborists performing tree circumcisions?

        What flavor of deep dish pizza do trees enjoy most?

    5. Gonna forfeit that asset and gay marry that tree hugger. Wait, he’s not hugging that tree…

      1. I’ve seen that once.
        Starts with a “B” and ends with an “erkeley”.

  12. From what I can see outside my window, there are enough trees in the PRM that we aren’t going to run out of trees for a long time. In fact, around here, there isn’t one square inch of earth that there’s not a building, road, parking lot or other structure on, or that is not covered in water, that doesn’t have a damn tree on it.

    Shut up greenies.

    1. When people think of Southern California, they usually picture something like this, but we actually have 3 very large National Forests here, which cover hundreds of square miles.

      1. Correction: Thousands of square miles.

        1. You may just have a future as an environmentalist.

  13. We must send our orphans out – hither and thither – to stop this tree menace. Arm them with (blunt) butter knives and set ’em a-choppin’

  14. Also: will that damn Indian stop crying, or is that the fucking owl?

    1. How many licks does it take to get to the center…?

      /Cause that owl was a real fucker.

  15. I would be willing to bet that by the time a society reaches stages 4 and 5 of population growth, that their forests increase. That, and as a society matures, it uses fewer natural resources, not more.

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