Maps of tree cover in Europe

Originally published at:


To be fair, physical geography can have as much to do with it as human development. Iceland’s bare because it’s just below the Arctic Circle and fairly new land (in geological timescales) besides. Norway’s coast is fairly mountainous and faces harsh Atlantic storms. I don’t know about Denmark, but isn’t it mostly marsh, unsuited to forests?

Britain, on the other hand, yeah, we pretty much denuded the land to fight the Napoleonic Wars, impoverish the Scots, and establish the British Empire.

North Africa has been picked clean !


Well ovbiously I’m not talking about literal deserts and mountaintops! There are no trees in the sea either!


The red pixels are shorelines?

That’s what I was wondering? What does red represent. Shorelines seems logical, I suppose there has to be some knid of demarcation there. Otherwise, your ship would run again. I stress, ‘your’ ship… not ‘my’ ship. :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m pleasantly surprised to see so much forest still exists in Europe. For some reason I thought most of it was cut down. Perhaps the black areas such as in Spain are places where forests don’t naturally grow.

run aground… not run again, but you know what I mean.

To be fair, the Po Valley (Padana in Italian) is a flat, soil-rich alluvial fan that has been the breadbasket of Italy since Roman times. So yes they cut down whatever forests may have been there centuries ago, but used the resulting rich farmland to feed a lot of people.

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Well, maybe you should be. Geography’s complicated, yo. It’s not a case of either there are trees or man has ‘picked clean’ the area.


More or less. You see the green NW corner and the north coast, and how inmediatly after that is empty? Thats the meseta, is not particularly “green”, is more like the plains. Also fairly dry.

Compare that map with

Which shows annual rainfall, the bluer the wetter.

Not that human activity has nothing to do with it in all of the map, the plains in Castille have been used for grain and sheep. But again, the map is more or less clear on why you find the green where you find it :slight_smile:


Beautiful maps!
Thank the USGS, a federal, non-policy, science agency for providing long-term baseline data like this free to the public and which operates on a budget of only about $1 billion a year!
(Trump’s 2018 budget proposes a 15% cut)


The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.

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Now I know where Iceland’s kiddy-park is located.

No, Iceland (and Spain) is bare for much the same reason that Easter Island is bare.

People, not geography, is the problem.

In a few decades, or perhaps a few centuries if we’re lucky, people will be making the same arguments about the Amazon as they do about Spain (and North Africa) now. “Oh, of course there’s no trees there - there is no rainfall because of the Andes shield, and the soil is too poor!” Merrily ignoring the fact that the rain dried up and the soil washed away because all the fucking trees were cut down.


When I travelled through Spain to the Cabo de Gata a few years ago I found it didn’t stop being green until I got to Murcia.

Depends on many things, starting on what you call green :slight_smile:

My family is from Galicia on the NW corner, you can identify it by being all green in that map. Crossing into León on a train or car is like whoa, what the hell… is just not the same, earth is all red, plains instead of a thousand creeks and rivers, etc.

No. The opposite was/is true:


Iceland was deforested over the course of 300 years by Norse settlers. The British are also responsible for the deforestation of Ireland as well as Scotland using most of Ireland’s forests for agricultural land holdings and later harvesting what remained to make galleons for its navy.