How many trees are cut down every year?

Written by Brant Olson

Topics: Agribusiness, Finance, Learn

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When you work for a group like RAN, you get lots of questions about deforestation. Here’s a recent Q&A. “Statistics lie”  you say? Commentary on our conclusions are welcome encouraged!

Where can I get hard facts on global deforestation?

The UN FAO State of the World’s Forests 2007 gives the most current comprehensive world view, but lacks much detail. The latest detailed look at global deforestation rates is available from the FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005. An easy-to-navigate summary of key findings of the 2005 report is available at http://www.greenfacts.org/en/forests

note that the FAO defines forests as land with a tree canopy cover of more than 10 percent and an area of more than half a hectare. FAO says that “forest” includes natural forests and forest plantations<–monoculture tree farms that most would not recognize as “forests” in the traditional sense. So when you hear industry brag that the country has more forests than we did a decade ago, their claim relies on this designation.

How many trees are cut down each year? For what purpose?

  1. As for how many trees are cut down each year, the 2005 report concludes that primary forest area (as opposed to plantations)was reduced globally by 60,000 square kilometers per year (about the size of Ireland; see: http://www.greenfacts.org/en/forests/index.htm#2). Note that this data is incomplete due to a lack of available data from many countries who do not monitor such change. As to the “number of trees” this represents, it’s impossible to get an accurate count. Tree density in primary forests varies from 50,000-100,000 trees per square km, so the math would put this number at 3 billion to 6 billion trees per year.
  2. As for what purpose this logging is for, pg. 129 of the 2007 report provides statistics on global production and consumption of woodfuel (charcoal and other energy uses) roundwood (paper and other non-lumber products) and sawnwood (lumber). It estimates global production at 1.7 billion (46 percent) , 1.6 billion (43 percent) and 421 million (11 percent) cubic meters respectively with comparable volumes consumed globally.

How much is this industry worth? How much (in millions) goes to paper vs. construction?

  1. Incomplete data from the FAO’s 2005 report gives a global value of $64 billion to “wood forest products removals”–$57 billion of which is from industrial roundwood and its derivatives (lumber and paper; see http://www.greenfacts.org/en/forests/l-2/8-economic-social-benefits.htm#0)
  2. A recent report on illegal logging by The American Forest and Paper Association states that “The global value of 2002 total wood products trade (HTS Chapter 44) can be estimated at approximately $69 billion, based on data available through the Global Trade Information Service (GTIS). Pulp, Paper and Paperboard trade would add another $117 billion, bringing the total value of forest products trade to $186 billion” (link, page 6).

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473 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. amanda says:

    Trees is what keeps us alive if you think about the future one day there might not be trees.then wat we can all DIE……..if you have ever seen the lorax you will find out what happenes when u exterminate trees.so take a stand and do whats right and help take a stand against taking down trees….lol love yal

  2. Squeakers says:

    You guys are making big fools of yourselves, we can live without trees because Algae creates about 50% of the oxygen in the world however, animals need those trees to live and if they die the animals will die and the food chain would go down. King is a obvious troll, don’t feed him. Trees however prevent some Carbon Dioxide from going up in the atmosphere therefore helping prevent Climate change.

  3. jean public says:

    assemblyman mckeon has a bill in the new jesey legislature all of a sudden appearing on the agenda today (surprise) called A 2837 which will log our state forests.

    interestingly senator bob smith has a bill to tax nj residents for $200 million dollars to save land for protection.

    evidently the protection includes ripping off nj citizens so the land we save can be logged to make wood chips to sell to china.

    this whole thing is a rip off on nj citizens. save the land but then dont turn it into a lumberyard. our legislature is rippign off nj citizens.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cutting down trees is like cutting down humans.

  5. Brian says:

    I have 4 trees and a bush in my front yard :)

  6. Singalongilgaga says:

    TREES TASTE NICE!

  7. Siamsingalongilaga says:

    Lol that guy who sad TREES TASTE NICE was obviousley not me changing my name then i make this message but put ‘Siam’ in it. Phhh of course it wasnt that!

    TEHE

  8. Siamsingalongilaga says:

    i LIKE ham WITH mustard SAUCE and TREES for THE desert!

  9. Siamsingalongilaga says:

    WHY Y MODERATING MY COMMENTS :(

  10. brooke says:

    How many in America?

  11. Tree says:

    Help save trees

  12. henrietta says:

    look plsssss dnt cut down trees if theres no trees theres no oxygen n it will cause global warming sooooooo im begging u 2 those r cutting down da trees plssss stop wat ur doing juss cut n plant some of the tree s but not juss only cut but not planting a tree

  13. Sky Michelle says:

    Your sentence ,”Commentary on our conclusions are welcome encouraged!” does not make sence. You could have said,”Commentary on our conclusions are welcomed.” or “commentary on our conclusions are engouraged.”I just thought that ya’ll should know.

  14. Jayne says:

    Without trees animals have no homes, food or safety from predators. The animals affected by logging or deforestation are birds, insects, mammals, reptile and human kind and even other types of plants. Once these animals, insects and plants die out what will happen then?. Well a chain reaction of course with other species of animals that rely on birds and insects for food or protection are going to begin to struggle and die out. So for anyone that thinks we can live without trees please think again.

  15. DYLAN says:

    PLEASE DONT CUT DOWN TREES ORE WE WILL ALL DIE IM JUST A LITTLE BOY

  16. rainforestlover says:

    I agree with Jayne, i mean what is wrong? And it’s not only children who want trees, its everyone, Dylan. We need trees and that’s true. Think about the next generation and the next and the next. You should really reconsider.

  17. Tanja says:

    i dont think so really, imean,c’mon who cares? i figure thatt theyll make it just like our anscestors did.

  18. I think trees poop wayyyy to much hello Brittany lol

  19. Eugenio Aburto, AIA-E says:

    The solution to keep trees is use concrete to build homes, no lumber, even people can live more safe than the 1,700 families in Texas 2011 with houses burned, or the 13,000 lost per tornado 2013 in Oklahoma, and many others which will be to long to enumerated.
    Regarding paper use, communicate by the web. Use your computer to pay bills. All the previous comments are valid.
    Congratulations to all them.

  20. Eugenio Aburto, AIA-E says:

    looking more on the reports about trees cut down the consumption is of wood as fuel, lumber, and paper.
    I was recommending building houses with concrete, but building concrete houses with the method in the patent US 8,29,876 B2, the structures can be insulated as necessary to avoid the use of heating, making unnecessary fire wood.
    Then trees can be to make a GREEN environment, no more cutting.

  21. Eugenio Aburto, AIA-E says:

    Sorry, I miss a digit, the patent number is:
    US 8,429,876 B2
    If you want to look at this innovative and affordable method to build.

  22. jack says:

    yes we all need trees

  23. jack says:

    no trees no human

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