Skip to main content

Tree Cover

The Western Gateway project will result in a net increase of 1.5 acres of forested area in the County.

Deforestation is a global concern. Forests still cover about 30 percent of the world’s land area, but they are disappearing at an alarming rate. Between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 502,000 square miles (1.3 million square kilometers) of forest, according to the World Bank—an area larger than South Africa. Since humans started cutting down forests, 46 percent of trees have been felled, according to a 2015 study in the journal Nature. About 17 percent of the Amazonian rainforest has been destroyed over the past 50 years, and losses recently have been on the rise. (Nunez, “Deforestation Explained,” National Geographic, February 7, 2019.) 
In its 2020 Global Forest Resources Assessment by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Brazil ranked first in nations losing forest area, losing nearly 1.5 million hectares between 2010 and 2020.  The other nations ranking high on net loss of forest area were all located in the tropics.  
But as we focus closer—to a national, County and campus level—the story is different. Most deforestation in the United States occurred prior to the 20th century and forest cover in this country has remained relatively constant for over a century. The United Nations study ranked the United States sixth for countries, between 2010 and 2020, that had annual net gains in forested area (adding 108,000 hectares). China led the world in net forested area gained, at 1,937,000 hectares gained. 
The County’s forest area is also growing. Between 2014 and 2017, the Prince George's County forest areas planted and preserved increased by 1,482 acres. The forest conservation story on campus is likewise laudable.  The UMD campus has approximately 400 acres of forested area. Of that, almost one-quarter (91 acres) has been placed in permanent forest conservation easements.

For more than a dozen years, the University has replaced all lost trees on a 1:1 ratio. Working with staff across responsible campus departments, the university has met its goal of planting 100 trees on campus every year since 2008. In addition, the University is committed to a net one acre of reforestation on University land for this project.

Back to Top