Skip to comments.How many trees are there in the United States? (Including Alaska and Hawaii)
Posted on 09/29/2007 10:32:09 AM PDT by SamAdams76
Well my son came home from school with a very interesting school project for the weekend. He was asked to find out how many trees there are in the United States. The student who comes closest to the answer on Monday will get to give a presentation to the class on how he/she did the research to come up with the most right answer.
The teacher said that the answer can be found by using Google but you will need to be "very creative" with your search terms and you will need to visit multiple sites before arriving at the correct answer.
A tree is described as self-standing unit. Multiple trunks sharing the same root system must count as one. Saplings count too but not older trees that have died or fallen over. To add to the challenge, Alaska and Hawaii have been included but not Canada. Trees straddling the U.S./Canadian border only count if most of the trunk is on the U.S. side (even if the root system is mostly on the Canadian side).
Now attempting to determine the amount of trees in the United States is a daunting undertaking. For the United States is blessed with a lot of trees. Millions of them!
Where to begin?
Unfortunately Google does not seem to be much help. We are unable to find any "tree censuses" for example, in which a given state might report the number of trees.
My son and I believe that the number of trees out there is somewhat static. That is, for every tree being born, there is another tree dying or being knocked down for lumber, etc.
So we decided to make our best guess by ruling out certain states. For example, states like Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada are all desert so no trees there. Florida is just swamp, beaches and condos so not many there either (but there are a lot of palm trees we'll have to count).
New Jersey is pretty much covered with factories, warehouses and turnpikes, so not many trees there (but a lot of middle-class people keep trees in their back yards so we'll have to count those).
So once we reduce states like these, that have hardly any trees at all, our task gets easier. We figure the big "tree" states in the continental U.S. are Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin and Oregon, with a few others.
As for Hawaii, it's kind of like Florida. A bunch of palm trees and that's it. But Alaska, well, that is the mother lode. Alaska is virtually all trees and our biggest state to boot, so most likely, Alaska has about as many trees as the entire lower 48 put together.
After some careful deliberation (and a little bit of math), our best guess is that there are 600 million trees in the entire lower 49 (including Hawaii). Now that sounds like a huge amount but considering that that would only be two trees per person, well, it doesn't sound like much at all. But consider that millions of people live in big cities like New York and Los Angeles where there are hardly any trees. SO that leaves a lot more trees to go around for the rest of us. So two trees per person sounds more reasonable.
Considering our theory that Alaska has as many trees at the other 49 states, then we will stick our necks out and double that 600 million trees to 1.2 billion
So that's our answer and we're sticking to it. My son is going to go to school on Monday and report that the U.S. has 1.2 billion trees! That's 1,200,000,000 if you want to spell it out. My son is nervous because he doesn't want the rest of his class laughing at him for giving such a high number but I'm sure my other Freepers can help convince him that indeed there are quite possibly that many trees out there.
This answer is surely bound to make my son's tree-hugger teacher angry. She's going to probably try to say that there are only about 4 million trees left, because President Bush had them all knocked down for oil pipelines and stuff like that. So he probably hasn't got a chance in hell of winning the contest. But at least my son and I will know that regardless of the outcome, we'll know deep down in our hearts that he had the most correct answer.
The truth might hurt but the fact is, we still have immense stands of trees in this country, well over one billion! Regardless of what the radical left might want us to think.
“A tree is described as self-standing unit. Multiple trunks sharing the same root system must count as one.”
Oh! ...it's your son's project. :)
If you count trees larger than 3/4 inch, the limit I can cut with my garden snippers, there are 100 per acre in the quarter of Alaska that has trees. That is 8 billion trees in Alaska.
Ummmm...... lots and LOTS of trees in the mountains of New Mexico. You could be a million light right there, maybe more.
This seems like the kind of question with many variables. Was the teacher refering to trees used to harvest lumber, like the many fir trees of Washington? Or is the number intended to include the Orange trees of Flordia, the Apple Trees of Washington, and every other variety of food producing tree?
Tundra is half, taiga half the other half, and forest the remainder. BTW, the tundra is on fire, 350 square miles burnt and still burning.
More trees now than when the Pilgrims landed.
I swear I didn’t do it.
It was lightning.
When you get the total, add one more (you forgot to count Al Gore).
There are more acres of trees in New England today than there were when the pilgrims landed. It’s hard to believe but we are at a peak of a 350 year forestation cycle that was at its ebb in about 1640 or so.
Obviously I have nothing better to do and zero personal life whatsoever or I wouldn’t have spent the last 30 minutes looking for a “forest density” overlay for GEarth.
USFS must have one, but I’m not going there.
Back to my multi-week project to sample and combine several versions of “Wicked Game” in FL Studio.
Hey, it’s a hobby.
If you can get within 10-fold either way, I’d say that’s a pretty good guess.
My guess would be somewhere 10 - 100 billion.
I drive the I5 corridor a lot, and believe me, there’s a humungous amount of trees out there.
You should consider drinking alcohol. ;o)
Trees, in thousands
Outside Alaska: 286,434,232
Can’t make sense of the Alaska data because it seems low...
Here's a pretty good forest/tree distribution map from 1859 for comparisons.
You have quite a job there ... GOOD LUCK! And let us know the answer!!! ;-D
Hey Sam’have you ever been to the Pine Barrens of south Jersey? One could get lost out there!
Dont forget the 3 in my yard.
Not to disappoint you but the U.S. Forest Service doesn’t even know how many trees they have in any given National Forest. I’ve tried unsuccesfully to get this information when preparing environmental assessments in the past. Either they don’t have a clue, or they are like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service when it comes to endangered species, they will not tell. It’s my guess that neither agency has a clue as to the resources they are in charge of managing or protecting.
I think you need to take a geography course..
Heck, I've planted about twenty trees on my property just this year. I don't even know how many trees I have.
I think you need to take a geography course..
A modest 100 trees per acre in America’s 700+ million acres of forest is what? - 70 billion trees? Whew! That’s a lot of trees!
Two bad assumptions.
Arizona and New Mexico both have lots of trees.
And Florida is covered in trees and not just palms. North central Florida is a lot like most of the rest of the South with tall pines, live oaks and thousands of other species typical of the South.
And you have to count citris trees, right?
Even the everglades has numerous tree species other than palm.
You'll have to readjust your figures.
1.2 billion is a low ball number, bet it is closer to 10 billion.
I would enjoy talking with the teacher who came up with this lame-brained assignment.
I was gonna guess a trillion then figured that would be too high. 10 - 100 billion was a lowball guess on my part. At first I was surprised by the 600 million figure for Alaska, but after thinking about it, even though Alaska is really, really big, huge amounts of it are mountainous and have few trees.
Thus the question: How many trees are there in the United States? Including AK and HI and excluding Canada didn't add a darn thing to the challenge.
Add mine to his count.
Who undoubtedly knows as much or more about trees than anyone else in the USA?
He'd better get crackin', Sam, if he's gonna count every last one. I'd just say there are "lots of trees, so many that to enumerate the quantity would but be a trifle."
Then I'd throw in a couple of references to "carbon dioxide" and a "global warming" catch phrase for the "A" grade.
The student who comes closest to the answer on Monday will get to give a presentation to the class on how he/she did the research to come up with the most right answer.
Gee whiz, whats second place get? Make two presentations and a poem recital?
We cut down two of our locust trees this weekend so don’t forget to back those out of his count.
I’d hate to see him lose by two!
I was not aware there would math in the forum today. Signed, A Concerned Blonde
I kind of threw that 1.2 billion number out there just to get a reaction. And yes, I know there are many millions trees in Arizona and New Mexico. Jersey too.
I have about a half acre of woods in my backyard and there are several hundred trees there easy.
After you get a count could you let me know what the oxygen output is...or how much ground water we could put to other uses if we cut them all down? heh heh
You can use my favorite line fro the teacher.
“Trees are nothing but a slow growing crop.”
Guaranteed to get a rise out of any tree hugger.
Exactly. It’s like a hardware store with bins of hardware from which quantities of hardware are sold daily. The store knows how many pieces of hardware it sells, it just never knows exactly how many pieces it has left. It would be a system of bookkeeping totally unacceptable to the IRS if the USFS were held to the same standards to which American businesses are held.
Just run Google Earth and count. Might be pushing to get it done by Monday morning though.
I work for the US Forest Service in a little known research sector known as Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA). I notice that some of the responses given have included links to FIA sites. This is your best bet. We are “the nations forest census.” You are never going to come up with any exact number for trees in the US - but this should give you an idea. We have research plots every 6 thousand acres all over the US including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. So yeah - for my living I count trees! BTW MAine has the highest percentage of forest land with NH coming in 2nd. I work in NH and Vermont and have worked in southern New England, West Virginia, NC, OHIO and MISS.
So what answer did you come up with and has the teacher responded?
So how many are there in Oregon alone?
I ax because the GOP Primary election is today and my opening comment on my FB page article was:
Oregon: Where there are more trees than people! LOL!
My son just graduated college this past weekend so I'm thinking this little exercise nearly a decade ago helped to make him smarter.
I counted them.
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