You might be shocked by this statement but it is sadly the truth. A new study of arboreal density around the globe indicates humans are directly responsible for killing almost half the trees on the planet.
There is, however, good news and bad news
This study is the first-ever data-driven global tree census, so it provides the most accurate count of trees to date. Researchers calculated there are some 3.04 trillion trees on Earth today, which breaks down to approximately 422 per person. That’s good news, because it surpasses previous estimates that put the figure at just a fraction of that. The bummer, though, is that the current number of trees represents a 46 percent decline since humans started cutting them down.
Arriving at the new tree density figures was a feat partly of mathematics and partly of wizardry. Researchers collected 429,775 ground-sourced measurements of tree density from every continent except Antarctica. They combined that information with satellite data on climate, topography, and human land use. The resulting models predicted tree density around the globe down to a single square kilometer.
Around 15 billion trees are cut down every year
Comparing those tree density predictions with spatial maps of forest loss, the researchers calculate that humans are removing approximately 15.3 billion trees each year, with the highest rates of decline happening in the tropics. Forest regrowth accounts for a little more than 5 billion trees per year, making for a net loss of around 10 billion trees annually!