How Many Trees are Cut Down Every Day?

TheRoundup is reader supported. We may earn a small commission when you make a purchase via links on this site, at no cost to you.

Deforestation is a major global problem, with countless acres of forest being lost each year. The reasons for this are varied, but the effects are always devastating.

This article will explore the scope of the problem, looking at the statistics on how many trees are cut down every day in 2022, and the consequences of this deforestation. It will also examine the reasons behind why we are losing tree cover, from logging to agriculture.

Finally, it will offer some solutions on how to stop it. Deforestation is a complex issue, but by understanding the problem we can start to find ways to mitigate its impact.

Deforestation: Key Facts

  • 42 million trees are cut down each day. [1]
  • That's 15.3 billion every year.
  • Humans have already destroyed around 46% of the trees on Earth. [2]
  • Only 36% of the world's rainforests remain intact. [4]
  • Forests cover 4.06 billion hectares (just less than 31%) of the Earth's land area. [3]
  • But 420 million hectares of forest cover have been lost since 1990. [3]
  • Three trillion trees remain on the planet, which is 376 for every person based on 2022 global population figures. [2] [5]
  • The rate of global deforestation is 0.06% per year. This slowed in the last decade, compared to the two previous decades. [3]

infographic showing how many trees are cut down and how many remain

What do Trees Do For Us?

We hear a lot about the scale of deforestation, and now you know some of the facts. But why does this all matter so much?

Trees give us the following benefits:

  • Absorb and store Carbon Dioxide (the most abundant greenhouse gas) and produce Oxygen
  • Absorb particulate matter, the air pollution that is generated by burning fossil fuels, and is most dangerous to human health.
  • Provide a habitat for wildlife.
  • Filter our water by removing sediments and pollutants from rainfall before returning it to the water cycle.

Trees are an important part of the natural landscape, providing shelter and food for wildlife, regulating the local climate, and purifying the air. They also provide the oxygen we breathe.

Green spaces, and particularly trees can also provide a number of associated benefits for humans, including reducing stress levels, mitigating noise pollution, and improving air quality

As the world becomes increasingly urbanized, the importance of trees cannot be understated.

The Effects of Deforestation

Mass deforestation is doing a great deal of harm to our planet, and some of it may be irreversible. The effects can be wide-ranging and devastating.

Climate Change

Climate change is primarily caused by an excess of greenhouse gases. When there are fewer trees to absorb them, they remain in the atmosphere and speed up Global Warming.

Soil Erosion

Forest areas bind topsoil and prevent it from being eroded and washed away. This leaves a barren and unusable landscape behind - a process known as desertification.

Flooding

Trees and plants help to soak up water. Without them, rainwater runs off the land much quicker and can lead to dangerous floods.

Wildlife Extinction

Deforestation can destroy the natural habitats of animals and plants, leading to their extinction. It also disrupts local ecosystems, which can have a domino effect on other species.

Ocean Acidity

When there are fewer trees, excess carbon remains in the atmosphere and dissolves into oceans, making them more acidic. This can kill marine life and destroy coral reefs.

Why are the World's Forests Declining?

We have established that tree cutting by humans is the primary cause of the loss of trees worldwide. But there can be a number of different driving factors behind why this is done:

  • Agricultural Expansion - Tropical forests, notably the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, are being cleared to make way for agricultural land.
  • Timber Harvesting - Trees are logged for their wood, which is used in construction, furniture, paper, and other products.
  • Mining - In some cases, such as in the Amazon rainforest, forests are cleared to make way for mining operations.
  • Urbanization - As cities sprawl and grow, they can encroach on forested land which is cleared to make way for roads, housing, and infrastructure.
  • Forest Fires -  While naturally occurring wildfires are a part of the forest ecosystem, human-caused fires can also contribute to deforestation. Some are started deliberately by miners and ranchers as an excuse to clear the land for their own purposes.

What are the Solutions and Challenges?

To solve the problem of deforestation, we need to reduce the number of trees being cut down, and also work to replace those that have been lost.

Some of the initiatives that can help include the following:

  • Tree planting - One of the most obvious solutions is to simply plant more trees! This can be done on an individual, community, or large-scale basis.
  • Sustainable Forestry - Forest management practices that focus on long-term sustainability rather than short-term gain can help to protect forests and promote reforestation.
  • Personal Consumption - Everyone can help by reducing their consumption of products that come from trees, such as paper. Small changes, such as switching to bamboo toilet paper, or only filling your home with sustainable furniture, can all help reduce the number of trees cut down.
  • Supporting Indigenous Communities - Indigenous people are often the best stewards of their local forests. Supporting their rights and traditional land-use practices can help to protect forests.
  • Education - Educate people, especially in developing countries, on the importance of trees and forest conservation

However, it is important to recognize that there are no quick fixes.

One of the key differences between old-growth and new-growth forests is their ability to capture and retain carbon.

Old-growth forests are more mature and have had longer to accumulate biomass and sequester carbon. They also have a richer diversity of plant life, which helps to promote carbon capture. In contrast, new-growth forests are less mature and have not had as much time to accumulate biomass or sequester carbon.

The loss of old-growth forests is therefore a major contributor to climate change, as these forests are not able to replace the carbon that is being lost. To combat this, we need to focus on protecting the trees we still have, and also working to promote the growth of new ones.

Use of Infographic

License is granted to re-use the infographic above under the Creative Commons terms:

Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

You are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format for any purpose, even commercially.

Under the following terms:

Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to this source page, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.

Sources

[1] Crowther, T., Glick, H., Covey, K. et al. Mapping tree density at a global scale. Nature 525, 201–205 (2015)

[2] Ehrenberg, R. Trillions of trees. Nature 525, 170–171 (2015)

[3] FAO and UNEP. 2020. The State of the World’s Forests 2020. Forests, biodiversity, and people. Rome

[4] Rainforest Foundation https://www.regnskog.no/en/news/only-half-of-the-worlds-rainforests-remains-intact

[5] Worldometer https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

You May Also Like

Arabella Ruiz is a senior researcher at The Roundup. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and has been interested in the environment from an early age. Arabella loves to campaign for environmental causes and fundraise for charities that aim to preserve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species or help people with climate change problems.
Arabella Ruiz
Arabella Ruiz is a senior researcher at The Roundup. She lives in San Antonio, Texas and has been interested in the environment from an early age. Arabella loves to campaign for environmental causes and fundraise for charities that aim to preserve wildlife habitat, protect endangered species or help people with climate change problems.

The Roundup

Your guide to a green and eco-friendly lifestyle. We offer simple, practical advice that anyone can follow. Together we can make a difference today & save tomorrow.
SUBSCRIBE FOR UPDATES
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram