Still on our travel miniseries, we thought we’d take you away from the beaches and lakes and straight to the jungle, this is why we’d be talking about the world’s most forested countries. Coincidentally, some of these countries, you’ve never even heard of before unless of course your current affairs game is top notch.
Across the globe, there are deep pockets of green working as powerful lungs for all of us. Forests cover a third of the world’s land. They play a critical role in the ongoing battle against the impacts of climate change. They absorb harmful pollutants, regulate water flows, and support the habitats of migratory plants and animals.
Let’s take a look at a little unsettling statistics first.
The world’s forests are under threat. Since 1990, the planet has lost 1.3 million square kilometres of tree cover – an area larger than South Africa. According to The World Bank, this happens as a result of deforestation for forest and paper products and agriculture.
When trees are destroyed, greenhouse gases pour into the atmosphere. In the Amazon, recent fires have released 228 megatonnes of carbon dioxide. Swathes of the rainforest are burning in Brazil, which has recorded the highest number of August fires since 2010.
Protecting this essential resource and avoiding further deforestation could cut CO2 emissions by as much as 4 billion tonnes per year – the equivalent of taking half the world’s cars off the road, according to the Tropical Forest Alliance, an initiative hosted by the World Economic Forum that works with governments and businesses to tackle the problem. We all have a role to play in saving the world’s forest; otherwise there would be no more choice places to go on those vacations we love so dearly,and we really wouldn’t want that now, would we?
Now let’s get into the wild; shall we?
Below are the world’s most tree covered countries in descending order.
More than 98% of this former Dutch colony on the northeast coast of South America is carpeted in tropical rainforest -– an extraordinary, lush landscape that’s a magnet for intrepid travelers, but one that needs careful management to offset the potential impact of activities like gold mining and logging. Excess deforestation could damage the country’s delicate ecosystems and disrupt food supplies for indigenous communities. The entire land area of Suriname is made up of 98.3% forest.
Federal States of Micronesia
Dotted across 1.6 million square kilometres of the Pacific Ocean, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) is made up of over 600 islands, divided between four states – Yap, Chuuk, Kosrae, and Pohnpei. Nearly 92% of the islands are forested – in part due to the work of organizations like The Conservation Society of Pohnpei (CSP), which promotes sustainable development based on community-led resource management. The entire land area of Micronesia is made up of 91.9% forest.
Gabon, a country along the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, has significant areas of protected parkland. The forested coastal terrain of its famed Loango National Park shelters a diversity of wildlife, from gorillas and hippos to whales. Lopé National Park consists of mostly rainforest. Akanda National Park is known for its mangroves. The entire land area of Gabon is made up of 90% forest.
The Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It’s home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves, as well as rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises. Mahé, a hub for visiting the other islands, is home to capital Victoria. It also has the mountain rainforests of Morne Seychellois National Park. The entire land area of Seychelles is made up of 88.4% forest.
Palau is an archipelago of over 500 islands, part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean. The Palauan Island of Babeldaob contains the largest intact area of native tropical lowland rainforest in the Pacific and contains the most diverse forests in Micronesia. Palau’s forests are relatively dense and have high species diversity. A total of 128 tree species and 132 understory species were measured on FIA plots. The entire land area of palau is made up of 87.6% forest.
Following closely behind Palau at 87.5% forest area is American Samoa. American Samoa is a U.S. territory covering 7 South Pacific islands and atolls. The National Park of American Samoa highlights the territory’s tropical scenery with rainforests, beaches and reefs.
Also following very close at 83.9% forest area is Guyana. Guyana is a country on South America’s North Atlantic coast, defined by its dense rainforest.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR)
Also called Laos, Lao PDR is a Southeast Asian country traversed by the Mekong River and known for mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements and Buddhist monasteries. Vientiane, the capital, is the site of the That Luang monument, where a reliquary reportedly houses the Buddha’s breastbone. 82.1% of the entire surface area of Laos is covered by forests.
The Solomon Islands rain forests are a terrestrial eco-region covering most of the Solomon Islands archipelago. Solomon Islands is currently one of the world’s most heavily forested nations, with 77.9% of its total area covered in tropical trees and foliage.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea, in the southwestern Pacific, encompasses the eastern half of New Guinea and its offshore islands. Papua New Guinea is made up of ecosystems that range from coastal mangroves, arid savannas, extensive lowland rainforests, lush montane forests, to the tallest mountains east of the Himalayas. Papua New Guinea comprises of 74. 15 forest area.