Forests are a vital part of any country’s economy as well as social and cultural life and have been cherished for long for their value. Apart from economic benefits, forests also perform other ecological functions like regulating the water cycle, preventing soil erosion, regulating river flow and maintaining wind patterns. Forests are an indispensable resource for all countries but their type and quality depends on geographical factors. Here is a list of countries with the largest forest areas.
Countries With Largest Forest Area
1. Russia (Forested Area: 8,149,300 square kilometres)
The largest country in the world also has the largest forest area equalling more than 81 lakh square kilometres. The northern part of Russia is largely covered with alpine forests and has very less human habitation. This region called Siberia is covered in snow for most of the year and has a unique ecosystem. The varied geography also means that the high altitude mountains, river basins, and lower subtropical regions are covered in the different type of forests. Russia is one of the countries with largest forest area. Also, read about beautiful trees around the world.
2. Canada (Forested Area: 4,916,438 square kilometres)
Canada is the second largest country in the world and about 30% of its land area is covered by forests. This equals to about 49 lakh square kilometres which are roughly the size of India. Like Russia, a large part of Canada is uninhabited and covered in snow for most of the year which makes it ideal for alpine and tundra vegetation to grow there. The large number of mountains, rivers and lakes ensure that the soil is ideal for forests to sustain themselves and these forests have a large number of endemic animals. Canada has third largest forest area. You will also love to read about beautiful gardens in the world.
3. Brazil (Forested Area: 4,776,980 square kilometres)
Brazil is also one of the largest countries in the world and is home to the Amazonian Rainforest – the largest rainforest on Earth. Though all of the Amazon forests is not located in Brazil, a majority of it is in Brazil. Brazil has a forested area that covers about 56% of its territory and is over 47 lakh square kilometres in area. In fact, the forested area in Brazil is larger than the size of India. Brazil has one of the best quality forests in terms of density and diversity if living beings but these forests are under threat because of rapid urbanisation and deforestation. After Russia, Brazil has second largest forest area among all the countries in the world. We have also covered most beautiful and amazing forests in the world.
4. United States (Forested Area: 3,100,950 square kilometres)
About 30% of land area is covered by forests in the United States and this adds up to over 31 lakh square kilometres. The forests in the United States are very varied in terms of density of trees, type of vegetation and type of animal life. This is because the vast stretch of the country makes is conducive to the growth of many types of forests like marshlands, temperate forests, alpine forests as well as scrub vegetation in the desert regions. Most of the forest areas are protected as National and State Parks which ensures their preservation. We have also shared the video of world’s second largest tree giant sequoia, usually find in the United States forest.
5. China (Forested Area: 2,083,210 square kilometers)
One of the largest countries in the world, China has the least land area by percentage as compared to any other country on this list. Only 18% of China’s land area is covered by forests but this adds up to over 20 lakh square kilometres. China’s forests are under threat from the rapid urbanisation, mining and deforestation being done in the country to modernize it. Most of the forests today sit on coal and oil reserves and may be soon cut down to cater to the growing energy and agricultural needs of the country. China has pledged to cover the quarter of country in the forest by 2020. Let’s Wait For 2020!
6. Australia (Forested Area: 1,470,832 square kilometers)
After China, Australia has the second lowest percentage of largest forest area as compared to total land area. Only 19% of the land is covered by forests but this is mainly because of the dry desert-like conditions in most of the country. It has a total of over 14 lakh square kilometres of forested land and houses some very unique biodiversity. Due to the geographical isolation of this country from the rest of the world, very different and endemic wildlife has evolved in Australia. Because of the limited water supply and poor quality of soil, the forests are not able to proliferate despite the availability of space in the county.
7. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (Forested Area: 1,172,704 square kilometres)
Despite the small area, about 52% of land in Congo s forested area making it second only to Russia in terms of percentage of the forested area. Most of the country is covered by tropical rainforests fed by the rivers of the Congo basin. Plenty of water along with favourable climatic conditions has ensured that the forests are of superior quality and have diverse animal and plant life. However, tourism has not been able to pick up in Congo because of the ongoing conflict and political instability.
8. Argentina (Forested Area: 945,336 square kilometres)
Located just south of Brazil this South American country has 32% of its land area under forest cover. This adds up to just under 9.5 lakh square kilometres. Northern Argentina has more forest cover than the south because of the favourable climate and plenty of rainfall it receives on the windward side of the Andes Mountains that line the Western border of this country. The Patagonia region in South America is particularly famous for its dense forests and unique wildlife and is a popular tourist attraction in Argentina. One of the countries with largest forest area.
9. Indonesia (Forested Area: 884,950 square kilometres)
Despite its small size, Indonesia has some of the best preserved and densest rainforests in the world. Over 46% of the land area, amounting to about 8.8 lakh square kilometres is forested land making this one of the largest forest areas in the world. Due to its climatic conditions and location close to the equator, this region receives a lot of rainfall conducive to forest growth. Some unique species of birds and animals like Orang-utans are found in Indonesian rainforests. However in this country too, rainforests are under threat because of rising population and urbanisation that puts pressure on natural resources and necessitates deforestation. Indonesia is also among the countries with longest coastlines.
10. India (Forested Area: 802,088 square kilometres)
The seventh largest country in terms of area and 10th largest in terms of forested area, India is one of the most geographically diverse regions in the world. It has all types of forests ranging from rainforests to shrubs and desert-like vegetation and alpine forests to temperate and deciduous forests. Each of these forests has a different ecosystem that sustains a variety of small and large animals along with a large number of endemic medicinal plants.
Though forests should be preserved for their economic, ecological, cultural and aesthetic value, the pressures of urbanisation, rising population and agriculture is forcing many of these countries to cut down large areas of forest to make way for more short-term economic gains. Forests are rapidly declining in developing countries like India, Indonesia, Brazil and China and this trend needs to be reversed immediately. If the current rate of deforestation continues, the adverse effects of climate change will prove impossible to mitigate. Norway becomes world’s first country to ban deforestation and all countries should follow the same.