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What Many People Apparently don't Know About Forests

I recently fielded a question regarding forests that indicates that there are people who are believing in myths rather than facts. This isn’t surprising, given the number of people who are prone to repeating apocalyptic tales, apparently for the purpose of scaring people.

The question was, what are we going to do when there are no trees left? It shouldn’t need to be explained that such an event is far from being imminent. It is probable that such a question is spawned because of the thousands of acres of forests that are being destroyed in the Amazon Basin to make way for agriculture. However, that ignores the rest of the world.

Would it surprise you to learn that the most heavily forested country in the world isn’t Brazil? The forests of the Amazon Basin cover about 4,776,980 square kilometers. That is a lot of forests. However, the total forests in Russia cover 8,149,300 square kilometers; 49.40% of the country. In fact, here are more trees in Canada than Brazil, 4,916,438 square kilometers.

Roughly a third of the US is forested; 3,100,950 square km. Even this doesn’t tell the whole picture. There are more trees in the US today than there were when we became a nation.

In large part, this is because of laws and policies in the US that dictate that an acre of trees must be planted for every acre harvested. Many lumber companies have actually been planting closer to 1.5 acres for every acre taken, for years. This is in their own best interest.

Then there is the fact that many states give away seedlings to plant each year on Earth Day. In Oregon in 2010, the US forest service gave away several hundred thousand trees for planting. Such programs result in thousands of trees being planted yearly.

This doesn’t ignore the fact that some countries have been wasteful of their forests over the years. For example, the UK only has about 28,650 square km of forests. There used to be far more trees there. This pales in comparison to the vast, lush, healthy forests that used to cover the Middle East. A few thousand sq. km. of trees remain there, The rest is largely deserts.

The point is, though, that we aren’t in imminent danger of running out of trees. According to the CIA World Factbook, there are 39,000,000 sq.km. of forests in the world today. Some nations, like the US, have more trees now than they did as little as 2 centuries ago.It is likely that doom and gloom predictionists would prefer that people don’t know the truth, but we aren’t running out of trees.

  • Has anyone ever told you or hinted that we were running out of trees and forests?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I never knew there were that many trees in the world

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Written by Rex Trulove

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17 Comments

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    • Unfortunately, many activists haven’t quite grasped the point that fear isn’t the best motivator. Hinting that we are running out of trees is keying almost entirely on fear. If other motivations are used to get people to want to plant more trees, more trees will be planted, all without trying to deceive people into believing that we are running out.

  1. While it is true that we are not going to run out of trees, we, as the human race, need to conserve and take care of our environment. One way is to plant trees and other plants in our communities. I have a few plants in my home, so to keep the “green.”

    • I agree that we need to be responsible for what we have and nurture it along. I just don’t believe that their attempt to scare people into doing it is worthwhile. More people are apt to act responsibly if they are told the truth and are encouraged to help take care of nature.

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