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Forest Bathing

How Many Trees are There in a Forest?

When looking over a vast expanse of forest, it can be very hard to identify any single tree in all the greenery. It can even be harder to decide which plants are trees and which are merely shrubs and undergrowth. This can make it almost impossible to comprehend the number of trees in a forest.

To ever hope to get an idea of the number of trees in a forest, it helps to add some essential guidelines to the process. Following is an introduction to counting trees in a forest to get an idea of just how many there are!

how many trees in forest Setup

When counting the trees in a forest, it is important, to begin with knowing what information you want to find out. It is also important to set some definitions for what a tree is and what a tree isn’t. But first, it is good to know what a forest is.

While the definition of a forest will be very different depending on what region or country you live in, most definitions include these standard characteristics.

    • An area greater than ½ a Hectare or 5000 m2

    • An overhead canopy that covers over 10% of the forested area

    • Land that is not used for agricultural or other specific purposes

    • For especially young forests, the trees making up the forest should be higher than 16 feet, or 5 meters (the canopy requirement still stands)

Sampling the Forest

Rather than running through the woods counting individual trees and marking them with colored chalk, it’s easier to take a few samples. The size and location of your sample should be selected on the size of the forest and the general geography.

Forests are typically much larger than a hectare and can vary greatly in density. So it may be good to choose a couple of sample locations for your tree count to assure optimal accuracy. If you know the total area of your forest, you can select one or several sample locations that add up to exactly 1/10 of the total forest area. Then simply multiply your tree count by 10 to come up with a fairly accurate estimate of how many trees are in your forest.

1/10 of the forest is a good rule because any more is too much to count and any less might give you a bad estimate of the total number. All that really matters is what density the trees of the forest makeup and the area of the forest.

For our example, we will assume that we are in a forest that is an acre.

Counting Trees in the Sample  width=

This is the part where you will get out on location and enjoy that tremendous forest air experience. For this part, you will need a long measuring tape. Then you will need to choose a single tree that will stand in the center of your 1/10 acre forest sample and count all the trees within a 37.2 ft. radius.

(Remember the formula for finding the area of a circle (A = πr^2). If your 1/10 acre sampling ground is 4356 sq.ft. the radius will measure 37.2 ft.)

Tallying the Count

Your final task is to multiply the trees in your forest sample by ten to come up with the total trees in your single acre wood. While you may not believe, it this is basically the same method that scientists took to count all the trees in the world.

 width= So, how many trees are there in the world?

When scientists decided to undertake the colossal challenge of counting all the trees in the world they were pretty sure the number was somewhere around the 400 billion marks. They used grounds teams and satellites surveillance to come up with an unexpected figure.

You may be happy to know the previous figure was far lower than the true total of trees on the planet, but don’t get too excited. The final count showed that the number actually tops off at 3.04 trillion trees, or roughly 422 trees for each person alive today.

But, the news was not necessarily joyous and not all countries enjoy this high ratio. Russia boasts the largest Boreal Forests on the planet and the highest score of 4,461 trees per citizen. Countries with higher populations and less forest space, like China and India, only have 100 and 28 trees per head, respectively. Even though it sounds like those living in the US enjoy a decent 716 trees per head, the findings had some more surprising news.

Far more trees are being cut down than previously thought, summing up at over 15 billion trees each year. Although we currently pride ourselves with a wealth of 3.04 trillion trees, this is figure is lower than it has ever been in history—only 54% of what it had been since the advent of human civilization. 1

Final Thoughts on Counting a Forest

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Forests hold the keys to humanities’ health and survival on the planet and require care and respect to do their all-important job. For each of us personally, spending time in nature can boost personal health and lead to a more relaxed mind as a result.

Photo Credits: nd3000/, SERGIPRIMAKOV/, AvigatorThailand/

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