There are many definitions of the word ‘forest’, reflecting both the diversity of forests and forest ecosystems around the world and the variety of human perceptions and uses of forests. The globally recognised reference definition used by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and several others, combining biophysical and land use criteria, refers to forest as land covering more than 0.5 ha with trees higher than 5 metres and a canopy cover of more than 10 %, which is not predominantly under agricultural or urban land use. It covers both natural forests and forest plantations. Following this definition, the world currently has over 4 billion ha of forest (equivalent to 31 % of Earth’s land surface), the bulk of which is naturally regenerating forests (93 % of the total). Primary forests (i.e. with no or little human-induced perturbation) account for some 1.11 billion ha. Over half of the world’s forests are found in only five countries (Russia, Brazil, Canada, the US and China)
Global forest distribution, with top 10 countries by reported forest area (as a % of the world’s forests)
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