How Many Trees Are in the United States? 6 Shocking Stats

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Forestry, Trees and Tree Planting | September 21, 2022

Woman looks at map of the United States with a question mark and trees over it with her hands in her pockets and wonders how many trees are in the United Stats right now and is there more trees in the US now than there were 100 years ago?

How many trees are in the United States?

Earlier this year, a study by Nature magazine claimed that there are more than 3.1 trillion trees in the world. However, the most intriguing new data of all, which the experts, guided by Crowther Thomas of Yale University, produced was the number of trees by country.1

These scientists gave a comprehensive estimate of the number of trees in every country, with the United States coming in fourth in the world, with 228 billion trees.

This comprehensive guide outlines how many trees are in the United States, by each state, as well as some shocking statistics (mainly good surprises) about how many trees there are.

Related Reading: How many trees are in the world? (By County)

Protecting trees has become more of a priority in recent years, which is a very wonderful thing. Tree planting offset programs offered by carbon offset companies are helping to increase the number of trees around the world. And this, in turn, is helping lower the overall carbon footprint of the planet.

Does the US Have More Trees Than 100 Years Ago?

#1. The US has more trees now than it did 100 years ago.

You read that correct. The United States has 10% of the global forests, and it has more trees than it did 100 years ago. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that forest growth in the country has surpassed harvest since the 1930s. By 1998, tree growth exceeded harvest by 43% and the forest cover was 380% more than it had been in the 1920s.

Ancient twisted trunk tree in a desert setting, with sunset shining through the ceder boughs.

The East Coast has witnessed the greatest gains as it was the area heavily logged by early settlers from the 1600s, after their arrival. The increase in forest cover is attributed to sustainable tree-growing, rural-urban migration, and the preservation and conservation of national parks.

The tree planting campaigns that began in the 1950s have been fruitful, and the public is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of forests and trees.2

How Many Trees Were There 100 Years Ago?

#2. 100 Years ago, the US had only about 70 million trees.

Back then, the US had approximately 70 million trees, because the late 1910s witnessed an exponential growth of the timber industry as a result of the rapid developments in the recreation and construction industry.

This contributed to great deforestation in the United States, a country that by that time had no realistic forest programs and management laws in place. The East Coast was greatly affected during this period.2

#3. In 2020, there were approximately 3 trillion trees in the world out of which, the US contributed 3,100,950 sq. kilometers of forest.3

Trees by State, Territory, or District: What’s the Percentage Coverage?

According to a December news release7 from the United States Department of Agriculture,8 2019 was a successful year for the US forests. It is the year that saw the Forest Service,9 opening thousands of acres of forests, it reduced the risk of wildfire, and it improved the forest conditions. Also,100,000 acres of trees were treated.

#4. In 2019, 5.2 million hours of work were logged by veterans and young people in forest treatment, tree planting, and vegetation management.

Each state in the U.S. has something unique it offers to its residents with regard to the great outdoors. Here’s a list of the states, districts, or territories and their percentage forest cover.4

RankState, district, or territoryPercent forest (2016)
1Maine89.46%
2New Hampshire84.32%
3American Samoa80.84%
4Northern Mariana Islands80.37%
5West Virginia79.01%
6Vermont77.811%
7Alabama70.57%
8South Carolina68.19%
9Georgia67.28%
10Mississippi65.07%
11Virginia62.93%
12New York62.88%
13Massachusetts60.57%
14North Carolina59.73%
15Pennsylvania58.60%
16Virgin Islands (U.S.)57.16%
17Arkansas56.31%
18Puerto Rico55.62%
19Michigan55.62%
20Connecticut55.24%
21Rhode Island54.38%
22Louisiana53.20%
23Tennessee52.83%
24Guam52.82%
25Washington52.74%
26Florida50.68%
27Kentucky49.35%
28Wisconsin48.98%
29Oregon48.51%
30Hawaii42.53%
31New Jersey41.72%
32Idaho40.55%
33Maryland39.36%
34Texas37.33%
35Missouri35.16%
36Alaska35.16%
37Utah34.48%
38Colorado34.42%
39Minnesota34.08%
40District of Columbia33.90%
41California32.71%
42New Mexico31.99%
43Ohio30.92%
44Oklahoma28.80%
45Montana27.45%
46Delaware27.26%
47Arizona25.64%
48Indiana21.06%
49Wyoming18.42%
50Nevada15.89%
51Illinois13.64%
52Iowa8.43%
53Kansas4.78%
54South Dakota3.93%
55Nebraska3.20%
56North Dakota1.72%
U.S. Minor Outlying IslandsNo data

List By Region

RankRegionPercent forest (2016)
1U.S. territories56.74%
2Southern region50.13%
3Pacific Northwest region37.52%
4Northern region30.04%
5Interior West region28.14%
Total36.21%

Which Country Has the Most Trees 2020?

Russia has an estimated 642 billion trees, making it the country with the most trees in the world.

The country has forest cover that stretches across it.

Related Reading: How many trees are planted each year?

How Much of the US Is Forest?

How many trees are in the United States? By 2016, approximately 36.2% of the US was forested,10 that is about a third of the country.

#5. The forested area in the United States covers approximately 818,814,000 acres.

While the forest cover has been stable for the past 100 years, there have been huge shifts in the composition and area coverage of the country’s forests.

American flag draped on the wall of a stone church in front of a still water lake, with forests behind in red, greens and gold leaves.

Large-scale tree planting in the South, reversal of marginal farmlands, and fire suppression have contributed to increased forest cover. Conversion to agriculture, urbanization, natural disasters, and reservoir construction have contributed to the loss of forests.4

Are US Forests Growing?

In the US, more trees are grown than those harvested.

#6. Since the early 1900s, the total forest cover in the US has increased by approximately 2% to 755 million acres.5

Trees are simply awesome! They not only provide food, shelter and life giving medicines, they also help clean up the carbon emissions humans generate every day. Here are just a few of the excellent benefits trees provide:

  • Providing Food

Mangoes, papaya, lemons, oranges, limes, coconuts, peaches, apples, cashews, and many more fruits come from trees. Apart from these delicious and nutritious fruits, most of the world’s favorite spices such as allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg come from various parts of trees. Trees also give us maple syrup and chocolate.

  • Protecting Land

Trees protect the land from fires, soil erosion, wind, and flooding. Farmers use trees as windbreaks, barriers, and fences. The use of trees as a living fence has proven useful in creating a green wall to provide a boundary, improve the soil, redirect and absorb heavy rains, and keep livestock out.

  • Providing Air

Trees clean carbon monoxide and produce oxygen. Without trees, life stops. Trees also purify the air by reducing smog and removing airborne particles, thereby improving air quality, and everyone’s respiratory health. The work trees do in purifying air is among the most critical ways the world benefits from them.

Related Reading: How many pieces of paper in a tree?

  • Providing Shade and Shelter

On a hot afternoon, there’s no better feeling than enjoying the shade of an expansive tree canopy. Trees are the natural air conditioner of the environment and they help reduce water evaporation from the earth.

  • Providing a Natural Playground

When there is a tree in sight but no playground, one can climb and explore the tree. Climbing and exploring a tree is very exciting, more so in a world where technology has taken over people’s lives.

Child's feet walking across a moss covered log on the forest floor surrounded by brown leaves and twigs.

Children can learn risk-taking and fine motor skills while climbing trees. Adults can also climb for strength building and fitness.

  • Encouraging Biodiversity

Many insects, animals, and birds call trees home. The different canopies and levels of trees provide a home for many wildlife from very high to lower-level canopies. One can also use trees to build bee hives to attract the bees, which produce honey and help in pollination.

  • Providing Sustainable Wood

While it is best to use alternative energy, the fact is that many people around the world rely on wood to boil water and prepare meals. In Africa for instance, close to 80% of households use charcoal and firewood. While it can be contended that planting trees for wood or fuel competes with food production, both can complement each other. This way, a farmer cannot cut down ancient forests, but grow fast-growing trees sustainably.

Related Reading: How many types of palm trees are there?

  • Conserving Water

Tree assists in retaining and filtering water in the soil. They not only improve the quality of water but also prevent flooding and storm water that occur. Their roots split the earth to allow quick recharge of water tables.

  • Improving Mental Health

Being close to trees has many health benefits. Spending more time in a forest reduces feelings of depression, anger, and stress.

More Cool Facts and Stats About US Trees

  • Trees are the world’s longest-living species, never dying of old age. California is home to the world’s oldest live trees. Some of the state’s gigantic sequoias and bristlecone pines are 4,000-5,000 years old. The ancient Bristlecone Pine Methuselah,11 estimated to be 4,852 years old, is one of the world’s oldest living trees.
  • Climate change can be predicted by tree rings. Dendrochronology is the study of a tree’s rings to determine its age. However, tree rings can tell more than just a tree’s age; they can also reveal the presence of natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions or droughts.
  • The ring is thick in years of good growth, which are marked by a plentiful supply of resources. When resources in the environment are scarce, it is thin. According to a study conducted by Somaru Ram of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, high potential evapotranspiration—the rate at which plants lose water via their leaves—has had a negative impact on tree development in Sikkim, India. Such research aids scientists in their understanding of climate change.
  • Trees defend against misconduct. It sounds strange! However, suburbs and residences with bleak landscapes have been demonstrated to have higher rates of domestic violence than their verdant equivalents. According to studies, urban trees are linked to lower crime rates such as vandalism, graffiti, and littering.
  • The earth and its population will receive an additional 260 million tons of oxygen by planting roughly 20 million trees. The 10 million tons of CO2 will be removed by the same 20 million trees.
  • Trees are phanerogams, which means they reproduce through seeds and so have specific visible reproductive organs, such as flowers.
  • A tree’s limbs are not exactly spherical. They feature an upper (compression) and lower (tension) side that allows them to sustain their own weight as well as the weight of the leaves, nuts, or fruits dangling in mid-air.
  • Trees that grow in the shadow have thin bark, but trees that grow in the sun have thicker bark.
  • Trees can communicate with one another and defend themselves against insects. When insects attack, scientists have discovered that trees may flood their leaves with compounds called phenolics. They can also alert other trees to danger so that they can begin their own defense.
  • The root system absorbs nutrients and water, which are then transferred to the leaves via connective tissue. Sugar is transferred from the leaves to the roots via connective tissue.
  • A bristlecone pine tree known as Methuselah is thought to be the world’s oldest tree. To protect it from tourists and vandals, its exact location has been kept a secret.
  • Patients who have a view of fresh green trees from their rooms are said to recuperate faster and spend less time in the hospital than those who do not. Patients who have a view of trees spend 8% less time in the hospital.
  • Customers are more likely to spend money in shopping districts with trees. They are more willing to pay more for things purchased in a tree-lined shopping zone. In a retail district with trees, the same shoppers indicate they are prepared to remain longer and perceive the products and stores as being of higher quality.
  • Utah, USA, is home to the world’s oldest clonal tree cluster. According to DNA tests, the Pando group of quaking aspens is roughly 80,000 years old. It is expected to weigh over 6,000 tons, making it not only the world’s oldest living creature but also the biggest.
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Trees can hide unattractive vistas from concrete fences to parking lots. They not only provide a lovely green landscape, but they also reduce sunlight and dust while masking large amounts of sound from adjacent streets and roads.
  • Buddha’s initial fig tree is thought to have been cultivated from a tree growing in India in 288 BC. The Ficus Religiosa tree, as its name suggests, is one of the world’s most sacred trees.

Related Reading: How many trees does it take to build a house?

  • In a single year, a big oak tree can drop approximately 10,000 acorns. Oaktree nuts are well-known among wildlife. Acorns are a key food source for more than 100 vertebrate species in the United States, yet because of all the attention, they never germinate. However, oak trees have boom and bust cycles, probably as a defense mechanism against acorn-eating predators.
  • A single huge oak can drop as many as 10,000 nuts during the acorn boom, also known as the mast year. While most of them will end up as food for mammals and birds, every now and then a lucky acorn will embark on a voyage that will take it hundreds of feet into the sky and a century.
  • By delaying and filtering rainwater and safeguarding aquifers and watersheds, trees improve water quality.
  • Babies born in places with more trees have a lower risk of being born underweight.

Related Reading: How to tell how old a tree is, explained.

  • Palms are huge, woody herbs, not trees, according to the botanical definition.
  • Some trees have visited the lunar surface. Seeds sent to the moon during the Apollo 14 mission in early 1971 were grown into “Moon trees.”12 NASA and the United States Forest Service sought to determine if the moon’s orbit affected how seeds grew on Earth. In 1975 and 1976, these trees were donated to state forestry services.
  • Bamboo is grass, not a tree. Bamboo is the most massive member of the grass family. The hollow form of bamboo stalks, as well as the vascular tissue, spread randomly throughout bamboo stems, which is a stiff cylindrical trunk, qualify the plant as grass. Therefore, bamboo forests may theoretically be huge grass fields.
  • People who live in places with more trees have fewer cardio-metabolic problems and are less likely to die from cardiovascular or pulmonary disease.
  • Trees reduce sound waves and hence block noise. They minimize noise by reducing sound intensity, which is a phenomenon known as sound attenuation. To disguise undesired noise, leaves, twigs, and branches on trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants absorb and deflect sound waves.
  • Throughout the year, different portions of a tree grow at different periods. The majority of foliage growth occurs in the spring, with trunk growth occurring in the summer and root growth occurring in the fall and winter.
  • If one hangs a birdhouse on a tree branch, it will not move up the tree as it grows. Because trees grow from the top down, this is the case. Meristems are patches formed by specialized cells at the terminals of tree shoots. These meristems are the places where a tree’s limbs grow larger and taller.
  • Because trees develop from their distal ends, a branch will always remain the same height as when it first emerged from the trunk as a little bud. However, just because tree branches do not increase with the growth of the tree does not indicate they will always be there; many trees shed their lowest branches as they expand.6

So, How Many Trees Are in the United States… With approximately 228 billion trees, the US is number 4 globally. Russia leads at number one with China, Brazil, and the Democratic Republic of Congo featuring in the top 5.


References

1WATCH How many trees are there in the world? (2015, 2 September). Nature. <https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00317-4?error=cookies_not_supported&code=86812fb3-d727-4be8-a1fb-aaddbe1f2fc0>

2How Many Trees Are in The World? (2022, 28 April). GoTreeQuotes. <https://www.gotreequotes.com/how-many-trees-in-world/#:%7E:text=trees%20each%20year.-,How%20many%20trees%20were%20there%20100%20years%20ago%3F,for%20deforestation%20in%20the%20US>

3How Many Trees Are In The World? (2021 Updated List). (2021, 11 March). Local Tree Estimates. <https://localtreeestimates.com/how-many-trees-are-in-the-world/>

4States ranked from most to least woodsy. (2020, 27 January). Stacker. <https://stacker.com/stories/1397/states-ranked-most-least-woodsy>

5United States – Forest Area (% Of Land Area) – 2022 Data 2023 Forecast 1990–2020 Historical. (2022, 23 March). TRADING ECONOMICS. <https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/forest-area-percent-of-land-area-wb-data.html>

667 Interesting Facts About Trees – You’ll Be Surprised! (2020, 15 October). Nelda. <https://www.nelda.org.in/blog/category/statistics/67-interesting-facts-about-trees-youll-be-surprised#:%7E:text=A%20single%20tree%20can%20absorb,makes%20while%20driving%2026%2C000%20miles.&text=An%20average%20tree%20can%20drink,water%20out%20of%20the%20ground>

7USDA Forest Service. (2019, December 19). USDA Forest Service surpasses goals and breaks records in 2019. News releases. Retrieved June 02, 2022, from <https://www.fs.usda.gov/news/releases/usda-forest-service-surpasses-goals-and-breaks-records-201>

8USDA. (2022). USDA. Home. Retrieved June 02, 2022, from <https://www.usda.gov/>

9USDA Forest Service. (2022). Find a Forest. Home. Retrieved June 02, 2022, from <https://www.fs.usda.gov/>

10USDA Forest Service. (2016, September 04). State of Forests and Forestry in the United States. Speeches. Retrieved June 02, 2022, from <https://www.fs.usda.gov/speeches/state-forests-and-forestry-united-states-1>

11Westover, R. H. (2017, February 21). Methuselah, a Bristlecone Pine is Thought to be the Oldest Living Organism on Earth. Blog. Retrieved June 02, 2022, from <https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2011/04/21/methuselah-bristlecone-pine-thought-be-oldest-living-organism-earth>

12NASA. (2022, March 18). The “Moon Trees”. Lunar. Retrieved June 02, 2022, from <https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/lunar/moon_tree.html>