Scientists Discover Enough New Forests To Cover Half Of Australia

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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Scientists have discovered enough new forest to cover half of Australia, according to research from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Researchers from the University of Adelaide worked with the FAO to identify new forests in arid drylands in the Sahara desert, around the Mediterranean, southern Africa, central India, coastal Australia, western South America, north-east Brazil, northern Colombia and Venezuela and northern parts of Canada and Russia.

“Dryland regions have a greater capacity to support trees than previously perceived and understood,” Dr. Andrew Lowe, a biologist at the University of Adelaide, said in a press statement Friday. “Dryland could, therefore, provide a unique chance to mitigate climate change through large-scale conservation and afforestation actions.”

Scientists used a new photo-interpretation tool called Collect Earth to more accurately count the number and density of trees in arid areas. Previously, these regions had been difficult to measure because the density of trees is low, making them hard to detect using satellite images and other technologies.

Research published in Nature estimates that there are 3.04 trillion trees, or approximately 422 trees for every person on Earth.

The amount of forested area in the U.S. has grown substantially since 1990, according to World Bank data. The growth of forested area isn’t limited to post 1990 however, America has more trees today than it did in 1900. The increase in American trees and forested area is due to a tree plantations which plant more trees than they harvest and the population movement from rural areas to cities and suburbs.

This isn’t the first time the amount of forested area in the world has increased, in fact it has been occurring for some time.

“Forest growth nationally has exceeded harvest since the 1940s. By 1997, forest growth exceeded harvest by 42 percent and the volume of forest growth was 380 percent greater than it had been in 1920,” states an assessment from the FAO published in 2000.

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