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Study: The World Still Has Many Unknown Trees

There are many beautiful tree species around the globe, from Peru to Australia to Madagascar to California. How many are there?

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Study: The World Still Has Many Unknown Trees

According to a new study, there are approximately 73,000 types of trees. Many of these species remain undiscovered. Experts say such information shows how much we still know about the Earth.

Largest Forest Database

Researchers have revealed the largest forest database in the world, which includes more than 44,000,000 trees located at over 100,000 locations across 90 countries.

The data was used by researchers to estimate that Earth contains approximately 73,300 tree species.

This number is approximately 14 percent higher that previous estimates. Based on mathematical predictions, approximately 9,200 trees are believed to be present. Science has yet to identify them. Researchers said that many of these trees are found in South America.

South America, which is home to the Amazon rainforest, Andean forests and other tree species, had 43 percent and 8200 of the most rare species on the planet.

Roberto Cazzolla Gatti, University of Bologna, Italy was the author of the study which appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Gatti explained that trees and forests do more than produce oxygen. They also play an important role in maintaining the environment's health.

He said, "Our society often views forests as just bits of wood and trees are natural resources... Humanity gets inspiration, relaxation and spirituality from trees and forests, and that is essentially what makes life meaningful."

According to the research team, South America is home to approximately 27,000 tree species. Another 4,000 are yet to be discovered.

The team also provided estimates for other parts of the globe.

Europe and Asia are home to approximately 14,000 species, and around 2,000 undiscovered species.

Africa is home to 10,000 species, with 1,000 unidentified; North America includes Central America has 9,000 and 2,000 respectively; Oceania (including Australia) has 7,000 and 2,000 respectively.

The importance of the study

Peter Reich, University of Minnesota and University of Michigan co-author of the study, stated that by measuring the number of trees in a forest, "our study can help to tree and forest conservation efforts."

Conservation refers to the protection of animals and plants as well as the natural environment.

Reich believes that tree species diversity is crucial to maintaining healthy and productive forests. It is also important for the global economy as well as nature.

He said that the information from the study was important because tree species are disappearing due to climate change and deforestation. Understanding the value of this diversity requires that we know what is in the first place, before it goes away.

The study didn't estimate the global number of trees. However, 2015 research by one of the coauthors estimated that this number was about 3 Trillion.

New research has identified hot spots for tree diversity in the tropics, subtropics, and Africa of South America, Central America and Asia. The study also found that about a third can be classified as rare.

Researchers used mathematicians' methods to determine the number of unknown species using the known species. They estimated that 40 percent of the species may be found in subtropical and tropical areas of South America.

Jingjing Luang, Purdue University in Indiana, was co-author of the study.

Liang stated that the study "reminds us how little knowledge we have about our planet ....there's so much more we can learn about it so we can better conserve natural resources for future generations."

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