America has more trees now than it's had in 100 years. But we're not out of the woods yet.
The numbers are promising. But they might not be enough.
Trees: Green, leafy, rustling in the wind. Old-fashioned, carve your name into 'em, crash your bike into 'em trees.
America has more of them now than it's had in 100 years.
Yes! Really. This is very good news. Thanks in large part to sustainable harvesting practices and the creation of national parks, forest growth has been exceeding deforestation in the U.S. for decades.
In fact, many American forestry companies are planting more trees than they harvest. Which is pretty cool if you enjoy looking at trees or, you know ... BREATHING AIR.
The United States contains 8% of the world's forests.
That's roughly 300 million hectares of forest, which is exceeded only by Russia, Brazil, and Canada (where presumably the trees get free health care).
The largest area of forest growth continues to be on the East Coast.
Average wood-per-acre volumes there have nearly doubled since the 1950s. Which is amazing progress, since the East Coast was the area most heavily logged by European settlers in the 1600s.
Even New York City, a place not exactly known for its abundance of trees, is doing its part.
In April 2007, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to plant 1 million trees in New York City by 2017. That ambitious goal was met this November with two years to spare — a once-in-a-lifetime case of government accomplishing something faster than expected.
And as if there could be more good news...
It's not just America. The world has more trees than anyone previously thought.
A lot more.
A study conducted by 38 scientists and published by the journal Nature found that there are over 3 trillion trees on the planet, several times higher than previous estimates.
While all of these numbers are encouraging, the picture isn't entirely rosy.
The world still has fewer trees than at any point in human history. Which isn't great.
According to Thomas Crowther, a postdoctoral researcher at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the spread of human influence has reduced the number of trees on the planet by half, which is "astronomical."
Still, the trend of tree growth in the U.S. is encouraging. Trees clean pollutants from the air, absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, and produce oxygen. They're also home to innumerable species of life around the world.
In short, trees are awesome and we should have as many of them as possible. So go outside and tell a tree you love it.
Seriously. Go hug a tree. It's not that weird, I promise.
Correction 5/26/2017: A previous version of this story stated that there are 3 billion trees on the planet. The Nature study found 3 trillion, not billion. Even better.