When understanding the loss of trees across the globe and their environmental impact on the planet, it is important to know where deforestation occurs the most in the world.
This not only helps you determine which of the world’s forests are in imminent danger, but also lets you assess ways to curb and reverse these effects.
To guide you through this learning curve, here are 39 statistics and graphs that show true forest loss around the world and answers the question, where does deforestation occur the most?
What’s the Definition of Deforestation? How Much Deforestation Occurs Each Year?
Deforestation refers to the loss of forests or trees from forested land.1 This mainly happens due to agricultural, urbanization, and industrial reasons.
In turn, the forest that once stood in its natural lands has no opportunity to regrow and gets eradicated.
While trees can be planted on converted land, it is nowhere near the amount that could curb the effects of deforestation such as its contribution to climate change.
This makes deforestation a huge problem that impacts the world across multiple aspects including the survival of different species, the occurrence of natural disasters, and the rise in extreme temperatures.
Where Does Deforestation Occur the Most?
Deforestation occurs the most in the tropics,2 with the term referring to countries and regions that are near the Equator or the middle of the globe.
The tropics are some of the most enriched lands in the world in terms of forest growth. But they are also some of the most affected when it comes to losing their natural forests.
The rate of deforestation in the tropics stands at over 97 percent of total global deforestation from human-led causes of tree loss.3 In 2021, the tropics bid farewell to approximately 11.1 million hectares of tree cover.4
A major part of this loss of tree cover also occurred in tropical rainforests that are essential to sequestering carbon for planet earth. This loss measured up to approximately 3.75 million hectares of tree cover that fell to deforestation.
When you look at this loss of forest in the tropics through the lens of climate change, it paints just as grave of a picture of how deforestation affect the environment: The loss of tree cover in tropical primary rainforests led to 2.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-eq) emissions in 2021.4
Where Does Deforestation Occur the Most: This Deforestation Chart Shows Where Is Deforestation the Worst
By far, deforestation is at its worst in the tropics,2 in particular within the tropical rainforests that are located within these regions.5 This is a cause for alarm, because tropical rainforests hold some of the richest biodiversity on the planet.
So which countries are gaining, and which are losing forests?
Deforestation World Map: Loss of Forests Plagues Key Nations in the Tropics
Deforestation occurs the most in the tropics. Apart from the topmost countries in deforestation statistics mentioned above, the charts outlined below show forest area changes from 1990-2020 in the tropics.11
These details come from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
For instance, the Amazon rainforest alone is home to over 3 million species of flora and fauna. But that’s not all, since it also grows 2,500 tree species.
In a nutshell, the Amazon hosts at least 10 percent of the Earth’s biodiversity and has 2.3 million square miles of forest area.6 But when you look at deforestation statistics, the wondrous rainforest also stands out as having record high deforestation in 2022.7
The following deforestation chart shows where does deforestation occur the most in the world with true forest loss.8
Two of the four countries on this list, namely Brazil and Bolivia contribute to forest loss in the Amazon, which is the world’s largest rainforest.
The forest loss is the highest in Brazil, which holds nearly 60 percent of the Amazon rainforest.9
Deforestation Graphs: How Many Trees Are Planted Each Year for Each Tree Lost?
Approximately 1.9 billion trees are planted every year. But as you learn how many trees are planted each year, you also need to remember how many trees are cut down each year.
With approximately 15 billion trees cut down every year,2 the rate at which we lose trees is almost 8x greater than the speed at which we plant them.
To show true forest loss and help you assimilate how serious this disparity is, here is a quick visual cue for how much deforestation occurs each year.
How Many Trees Are in the World?
In 2015, an estimated 3.04 trillion trees existed on Earth.25 But when you account for the rate of loss of 15 billion trees each year, combined with the annual figure of planting 1.9 billion trees, it is clear that the number of trees in the world is rapidly deteriorating.
This calls for major participation in programs such as forest carbon offsets, which could also contribute to the number of trees that we plant each year.
Deforestation Pictures in Numbers: How Many Trees Are Cut Down Each Year?
If the change in land use such as the forest’s conversion into agriculture use or urbanization is involved, the trees that are cut can lead to deforestation.
In order to determine which countries need extra focus on regaining and preserving their forests, you can learn where does deforestation occur the most with charts and graphs that show true forest loss.
Rate of Deforestation by Country: Which Country Has the Most Deforestation?
The following deforestation graphs show where is deforestation the worst in the world. This allows you to understand exactly how the loss of forests is plaguing key countries on the deforestation world map, while also giving you an idea of regional deforestation trends and rate of deforestation by country.20
Total Forest Area
1990: 588,898 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 496,619.60 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 118,545 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 92,133.20 (1,000 hectares)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Total Forest Area
1990: 150,629 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 126,155.24 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 57,804.72 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 50,833.76 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 25,545.86 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 16,102.26 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 52,026 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 46,230.90 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 70,591.65 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 65,692.08 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 35,204 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 28,573 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 57,390.01 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 45,745 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 43,738.09 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 36,743.76 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 26,526.09 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 21,626.95 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 4,835.15 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 3,135.15 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 14,632.21 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 12,497.83 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 9,924.26 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 7,985.71 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 382.92 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 347.30 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 6,987.78 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 6,359.26 (1,000 hectares)
Total Forest Area
1990: 7,778.81 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 7,188.59 (1,000 hectares)
Deforestation US: Statistics About Deforestation in America
In the past 20 years, the United States has gained forest area.10 While the change is not drastically significant, it is still a feat considering how many other countries have suffered from deforestation in the same period.
Total Forest Area
1990: 302,450 (1,000 hectares)
2020: 309,795 (1,000 hectares)
What Are Some of the Biggest Jungles in the World?
Some of the biggest jungles in the world include but are not limited to the following.
This massive rainforest is situated around 2.3 million square miles of the Amazon basin.27 This makes it encompass approximately 80 percent of the area. This also earns Amazon the title of the largest rainforest in the world with its area reaching multiple countries.
If you are wondering where does the most deforestation occur in Brazil, the answer also happens to be the Amazon Basin.
The Congo Rainforest
This second-biggest forest in the world holds an incredible expanse of over 780,000 square miles and spans across multiple countries.28 This puts it just behind the Amazon in terms of its area coverage and highlights its importance for the preservation of natural wilderness.
The New Guinea Rainforests
This natural wonder stands as the third-largest rainforest in the world. It also holds its presence over multiple countries and remains home to a variety of flora and fauna of planet Earth.
While it is difficult to determine the size of these rainforests, the New Guinea Rainforests are estimated to occupy over 123,000 square miles of land area.
What Is the Largest Forest in the World?
The largest forest in the world is the Amazon, which spreads across the Amazon basin that itself holds an area of 2.3 million square miles. The Amazon rainforest covers approximately 80 percent of this area and spans across multiple countries.27
If you are curious about what country has the most trees from the Amazon, the answer stands as Brazil. But the Amazon has its presence in various other countries including Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.
It also spans into France’s French Guiana. In the past few years, the Amazon has become a regular part of deforestation pictures due to the rate at which it is losing its forest.
Which Country Has the Highest Percentage of Forest Area in the World?
With 815 million hectares, Russia has the largest percentage of forest area in the world.31 This puts it at the top of the list of such countries.
The second-largest country with the highest percentage of forest area in the world is Brazil with 497 hectares. This is closely followed by Canada with 347 hectares, the United States with 310 hectares, and China with 220 hectares.
How Much Forest Is Left in the World?
The total forest area in the world is 4.06 billion hectares.14 This makes forests cover approximately 31 percent of the Earth’s total land area.
However, the deterioration of forests through human advancement and natural disasters is affecting this figure at a rapid pace. This makes it important for us to pay attention to what percentage of the world’s forests have been destroyed and preserve the forest area that we have left across the planet.
It is also important to know that half of this forest area is spread across a handful of countries in the world. This includes Brazil, Canada, China, Russia, and the United States.
Whether you are looking at deforestation rankings for the 2010s or 2020s, this makes it crucial to understand the effects of deforestation and climate change in key areas and take measures to curb them.
How Many Tree Species Are There?
Newer research indicates that approximately 73,000 tree species exist in the world.29 Out of these 73,000 tree species, around 9,000 of them have not been discovered yet.
This puts the number of known tree species at a little over 64,000. Earlier data suggests that the number of identified tree species stands at around 60,000, with one of three tree species facing extinction.30
The difference between these figures and undiscovered species comes from the restrictions that we have at exploring our planet fully. There are some areas in the world that have not yet been researched to the point where we have information about every single species on them – whether they are flora or fauna.
As a result, while we can make an approximation for how many tree species are there, the actual number differs due to research limitations.
Logging Statistics for Tree Destruction and Rates of Deforestation: How To Track the Process of Deforestation
Logging the tree cover loss and deforestation percentages around the world is not difficult, but it takes precision and constant observation to highlight tree destruction or deforestation that is regularly occurring throughout the planet.
That is where satellite technology comes into the picture. With the use of satellite-based forest monitoring practices,10 scientists and environmentalists can now actively track the deterioration and preservation of forests on Earth.
This not only leads to constant monitoring of forests but also allows for swift approaches to curb extensive harm to flora and fauna within the areas being observed.
This is exactly how you can track the process of deforestation as well as the outcome of preservation programs. After learning how these results are tracked, you can also be confident about the statistics that you find through renowned entities and scientists.
Forest Transitions: Why Do We Lose Then Regain Forests?
There are various causes behind the cycle of losing and regaining forests. Since deforestation can occur due to a number of reasons, the aspects behind regaining forests can vary.
Some of these reasons include:
- Land use changes from agricultural or industrial to forest land.
- Carbon offset programs that promote the growth of trees in deforested areas.
- Government efforts to restore forests in deforested areas.
Deforestation Climate Change Facts: Which Countries Are Gaining and Which Are Losing Forest?
From 2000-2020, many countries, mainly from the tropics, lost their tree cover to different causes. This includes countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Bolivia.
In the order that they are mentioned, these four countries also top the list of countries most hit by deforestation. This highlights where deforestation occurs the most.
But there are also 36 other countries that have gained more trees than they have lost within the period between 2000-2020.13 The highest forest area increase was observed in Uruguay, which gained 54 percent more forest area than it held in 2000.
Other countries in this list included Ireland, India, Poland, Ukraine, and the United States. Altogether, the 36 countries gained tree cover of 130.9 million hectares. With that being said, the world also lost more than 100 million hectares of tree cover within the same period.
After learning which countries are gaining, and which are losing forest, you can understand why deforestation needs to be curbed on a global scale instead of a national level for countries that struggle with this problem.
Deforestation Facts Causes & Effects: How Much Deforestation Occurs Each Year?
The causes behind this loss can range from forest fires to land use change. Whereas, the effects of deforestation can include but are not limited to biodiversity loss,15 climate change, and soil modification.
Forest Destruction Causes and Effects: Do Rich Countries Import Deforestation From Overseas?
Typically, deforestation is caused by actions and processes that contribute to domestic consumption of goods derived from cutting down trees. But this is not always the case, since poorer countries also export such goods to richer regions.
When this type of trade takes place, it is called imported deforestation due to the way it is designed for the needs of rich countries at the expense of underdeveloped or emerging economies. According to estimates, rich countries contribute to approximately 40 percent of imported deforestation.16
This means that even if these countries are preserving their own forests, they are taking a part in destroying them elsewhere in the world.
This gives you an answer to the question: Do rich countries import deforestation from overseas? From there, you can become better equipped to advocate against these causes of deforestation.
The World Has Lost One-Third of It’s Forests, But an End of Deforestation Is Possible
By taking a look at the statistics about deforestation, you can appreciate how massive the challenge is for the world and its population. But it is not impossible to overcome it.
This includes actions such as developing regulations around the cutting of trees, defining actions against those who don’t follow these suggestions, and helping those marginalized communities that have to turn to cut trees to survive on a day to day basis.
Adopting sustainability programs and carbon offset measures can also go a long way towards increasing the forest area in regions that have succumbed to deforestation or permanent tree destruction. While these measures can take some time to bring to fruition, they deliver significant results overtime.
Not All Forest Loss Is Equal: What Is the Difference Between Deforestation and Forest Degradation?
When we talk about forest loss or tree cover loss, it does not always refer to deforestation. It is because when tree cover loss occurs, it refers to the elimination of the tree canopy (the top of the tree).
Since these trees are still rooted in the ground, they have significant chances to regrow and thrive. On the other hand, deforestation is the total destruction of the tree or the land that it is planted in, to the point where it cannot grow anymore.
That is why, when you look at statistics that use tree cover loss and deforestation, pay attention to how they are presenting their data. This allows you to better understand the state of the forests that you are making an active effort to learn more about and allows you to determine where deforestation occur the most with true forest loss.
How Does Deforestation Affect the Environment?
Deforestation affects the environment through the absence of trees, which are major components for carbon sequestration. When enough trees are not present to absorb carbon dioxide in a specific area, it leads to the release of CO2 into the environment.
In turn, this contributes to the big picture context on deforestation and the effects of climate change that include but are not limited to natural disasters, extreme temperatures, droughts, and survival threats to various species.
Carbon Emissions From Deforestation: Are They Driven by Domestic Demand or International Trade?
In most countries, approximately 71 percent of deforestation occurs from the needs for domestic consumption.16 Whereas, around 29 percent of deforestation contributes to export-related trades.
This makes deforestation as well as the carbon that it spreads through the environment to stem from a mix of domestic demand and international trade. However, high-income countries often import deforestation by buying goods from underdeveloped countries, which contributes to the high rates of deforestation in these regions.
What Are the Causes of Deforestation in Non-Tropical Countries Such as Nepal and North Korea?
Some of the major reasons for deforestation in non-tropical countries include the extraction of wood and the change of land use.18 The former cause stems from plans to support architecture or industrialization, while the latter refers to changing forests to agricultural or urban land.
This also holds true for non-tropical countries. In the case of countries such as Nepal and North Korea, some additional factors work towards deforestation in these regions.
These aspects include but are not limited to:
- Agricultural expansion to support the growing population.
- Logging to support the timber industry.
- Using wood to fuel the country’s industrial requirements.
- Experiencing natural disasters.
Types of Deforestation: Differences Between Clear-Cutting and Selective Logging
When you talk about deforestation, it is important to understand the differences between clear-cutting and selective logging. As outlined by its name, clear-cutting is a practice where a whole area of trees is cut off. Whereas, selective logging refers to cutting down only a handful of trees from an area.
In both types of deforestation, these actions contribute to how many trees cut down each year and add to long-term logging statistics.
In both cases, any trees that have lost their branches to a significant degree have little to no chances of surviving.19 That is why, if clear-cutting or selective logging happens in widespread instances, it can have a drastic effect in terms of deforestation.
What Are Some Key Deforestation Rankings for the 2010s?
- Democratic Republic of Congo
Big Picture Context on Deforestation Statistics: What Are the 5 Effects of Deforestation?
There are various effects of deforestation, with the most common 5 effects including:
- Contribution to Climate Change. Trees are remarkable for their carbon sequestration, which is the process of absorbing carbon that would otherwise be left in the air. With a reduced number of trees, more carbon can get trapped in the environment and contribute to deforestation climate change facts and figures.
- Destruction of Tree Species. One of the most evident effects of deforestation is the eradication of tree species. The more deforestation affects the world, the higher the chances are for the permanent removal of certain types of trees.
- Impact on Wildlife. Deforestation pollution has a drastic effect on the natural habitat of wildlife. This can eventually lead wildlife to not only lose its natural home, but also lose its ability to survive. As a result, this paints a grim picture for biodiversity.
- Increased Risk of Viral Diseases. When wildlife loses its natural habitat, it can grow agitated while also venturing into nearby areas with human population. Besides spreading viral diseases, many species can also spread never-seen-before pathogens and increase the risk of viral pandemics due to deforestation.21
- Reduced Opportunities for Medical Research. Forests and plants are known for their role in medical research and the development of herbal and modern medicine. With deforestation, we can lose the means of producing these medicines while also not having access to additional plants for research.
Deforestation Solutions: How Do Forest Carbon Offsets, Family Forest Carbon Program, and Other Programs Curb the Effects of Deforestation and Climate Change?
After learning where does deforestation occur the most and understanding what are the 5 effects of deforestation, you can help curb down forest destruction causes and effects.
These deforestation solutions include but are not limited to:
Carbon Offsets for Deforestation
This refers to planting trees to offset any carbon emissions that you contribute to the planet’s climate. Buying carbon offset credits as a business or individual is one of the most popular ways to follow this practice.
Family Forest Programs
This highlights forest land that is owned by individuals instead of the government or organizations. A family forest carbon program revolves around helping families with preserving their forests.
Taking Collective Action
Climate change calls for measures at a grand scale that cannot be achieved by individuals alone. In order to maintain forests and preserve their land, it is important that governments and institutions around the world also join the fight against deforestation.
Global Deforestation Peaked in the 1980s. Can We Bring It to an End?
We can end deforestation by taking choice steps. For maximum effect, these activities need to be performed as a collective action rather than an individual effort.
These steps include:
- Enforcing protections around forests and introducing regulatory measures for those who violate these rules.
- Pledging funds to support areas being plagued by deforestation due to economic challenges.
- Planting new trees to sequester carbon and add to the overall tree cover across the land in question.
- Promoting sustainability in industrialization, architecture, and lifestyle practices to curb down the land use change of forests.
Knowing key statistics about deforestation allows you to understand how much forest is left in the world and grasp the impact that losing trees can have on our planet. But it is also important to remember: The world has lost one-third of its forests, but an end of deforestation is possible.
Once you learn where does deforestation occur the most, you can also do your part in making up for the loss of trees in the region by raising awareness and participating in carbon offset programs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Where Does Deforestation Occur the Most
When Did Deforestation Start in Africa?
Due to the unavailability of hard data regarding deforestation in Africa, it is not as easy to determine when did the loss of trees start in the continent. With that being said, historical statistics show that the deforestation in Africa has increased since the 1990s.22
When Did Deforestation Start in the Amazon?
Deforestation started in the Amazon in the early 1960s. In 1964, Brazil’s military dictatorship laid the foundation to create the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA).23 That started a chain of events that led to massive deforestation of the Amazon.
When Did Deforestation Start in Brazil?
The deforestation in Brazil is directly linked to the deforestation in the Amazon as both events started in the early 1960s through the creation of the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA).23
When asking which country has the most deforestation, you can find Brazil’s name in the top lists.
When Did Deforestation Start in Indonesia?
Deforestation in Indonesia started in the 1970s and since then, the deforestation in Indonesia has cut down its 170 million hectares of forest to 100 million hectares.24
This paints a bleak picture on the survival of the Indonesian rainforests if targeted actions are not taken for their survival.
Where Does the Most Deforestation Occur in Brazil and How Deforestation Pollution Affects the Amazon?
The most deforestation in Brazil and the world occurs in the Amazon Basin, 60 percent of which is situated in Brazil. Through deforestation, Brazil is rapidly losing its flora and fauna, as well as its tree cover.
What Percentage of the World’s Forests Have Been Destroyed?
Approximately 10,000 years ago, planet Earth was home to around 6 billion hectares of forest.2 At present, nearly 33 percent of that forest land is lost to a number of factors, mainly urbanization and land use change as a result only 4 billion hectares of forest left.
How Many Christmas Trees Are Cut Down Each Year?
In the United States, approximately 33-36 million trees are cut down for Christmas, with the number in Europe reaching an approximate 50-60 million. Understanding these figures lets you determine how many Christmas trees are cut down each year.
What Country Has the Most Trees?
Out of the five countries that hold the highest percentage of forest area in the world,31 Russia stands out with 642 billion trees across its lands. This means that whenever you are wondering how many trees are in the world, Russia’s name is bound to pop up as home to the largest natural collection of trees.
Learn More About Deforestation
How Many Trees Cut Down Each Year or in 2023? The Deforestation Crisis Explained
Can We Live Without Trees? How Our Worst Fears Are Becoming Reality
8 Endangered Tree Species Helping Fight Climate Change
39 Tree Quotes to Make You Question Climate Change
How Many Trees Needed to Offset Your Carbon Emissions?
Carbon Neutral Companies: 25% of Fortune Global 500 Companies Commit to Carbon Neutrality
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