There Are 3 Trillion Trees on Earth, 8 Times What We Previously Thought

Deforestation in northwestern Brazil. Humans have cut down about half of the Earth's original tree cover. Lunae Parracho / REUTERS

A new study calculates that there are 3.04 trillion trees on our planet, nearly 10 times larger than the previous estimate. About half of these trees are found in tropical and subtropical forests, while another 610 billion exist in temperate areas and 740 billion more in the boreal forests found mostly in Canada and Russia. To put it in context, that means for every one person on Earth, there are about 420 trees.

But this is definitely not a cause for celebration. The study, published September 2 in the journal Nature, also calculates that humans have cut down 46 percent of the world's trees since the advent of civilization. And it notes that the deforestation is accelerating, with over 15 billion trees cut down each year.

"We can now say that there's less trees than at any point in human civilization," study lead author Thomas Crowther, a researcher at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, tells The Washington Post. "Since the spread of human influence, we've reduced the number almost by half, which is an astronomical thing."

This paper bolsters the findings of another recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which calculates that humans have burned nearly half of Earth's biomass in the past 2,000 years, with 10 percent of that being consumed in the past century alone.