Some countries are blessed with abundant forests. But others like Gibraltar, Oman, and Qatar have precisely 0% forest cover. Egypt has been working hard to plant trees and build small forests, but less than 1% of its land area is covered in forests. Global warming and climate change have highlighted the importance of forests in our lives. Unfortunately, many countries have been cutting down forests at an alarming rate for one reason or another. Here we take a look at the top 10 countries with the largest forest cover.
Right now, deforestation is one of the most pressing issues facing the world. According to data from Global Forest Watch, the world’s rainforests lost enough trees in 2018 to cover entire Belgium. These forests might never return to their original state. They not only produce oxygen but are also home to numerous indigenous endangered species.
According to the Global Forest Watch, 8.9 million acres of tropical rainforests were cut down in 2018, the third highest annual loss since it started tracking deforestation in 2001.
There are two ways to look at the countries with the largest forest cover. First, we are going to see the forest area as a percentage of the total land area. This list would mostly be dominated by smaller nations with low population. Later in this post, we are going to see forest cover in square kilometers. This list will of course be dominated by countries with large land area.
Data for both the rankings comes from the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. It’s worth pointing out that the most recent data is from 2016. It’s a little outdated, but given the trend over the last three decades, the forest cover in most countries has declined in the last three years.
Countries with the largest forest cover as a percentage of land area
- Suriname (98.3%)
- Micronesia (91.9%)
- Gabon (90.0%)
- Seychelles (88.4%)
- Palau (87.6%)
- American Samoa (87.5%)
- Guyana (83.9%)
- Laos (82.1%)
- Solomon Islands (77.9%)
- Papua New Guinea (74.1%)
Top 10 countries with largest forest cover (in sq. km)
Russia, the world’s largest country by area, has the largest forest cover. It is one of the rare countries that have seen an increase in forest cover since 1990, thanks to the dedication of the Russian government. More than 20% of the world’s untouched forests are in the Russian Federation.
In contrast, Indonesia and Brazil both have been losing forests at an alarming rate. Brazil lost 1.35 million hectares of primary rainforests in 2018 alone. About 20% of the great Amazon rainforest has been destroyed in the last 40 years. The Amazon rainforest covers nine countries, and about 60% of it is in Brazil. Indonesia, which was once almost entirely covered in forests, has witnessed extensive deforestation in the last three decades.
Another country affected by massive deforestation is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Illegal logging, mining, and construction have caused a loss of forest cover in the country. People cut wood from the Virunga National Park to use it for various activities. It also threatens the habitat of many endangered animal species.
- Russia (8,148,895 sq. km)
- Brazil (4,925,540 sq. km)
- Canada (3,470,224 sq. km)
- United States of America (3,103,700 sq. km)
- China (2,098,635 sq. km)
- Democratic Republic of Congo (1,522,665 sq. km)
- Australia (1,250,590 sq. km)
- Indonesia (903,256 sq. km)
- Peru (738,054 sq. km)
- India (708,604 sq. km)
In this list, only India, China, the US, and Russia have seen their forest cover increase between 1990 and 2016. But that might not be enough to prevent the damaging effects of climate change, especially given the rapid loss of forests in other countries.