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VENEZUELA

By Rhett Butler   |   Venezuela, one of the ten most biodiverse countries on Earth, is home to extensive rainforests ranging from cloud forests of the coastal mountain ranges to the rainforests of the Guiana shield and Amazon basin. Venezuela has more than 21,000 species of plants, 353 mammal species, 323 reptile species, 1,400 bird species, and 288 amphibians.

Forest cover and loss in Venezuela

Using a ten percent tree cover as a threshold, forests and plantations covered nearly two-thirds of Venezuela's land mass, or about 59 million hectares, in 2012, according to researchers led by Matt Hansen (2013). Dense forests — areas with more than 50 percent tree cover — amounted to just under 54 million hectares.

The largest extent of forests in Venezuela are found in Bolivar, which accounts for about a third of the country's forests. Amazonas is second with about 30 percent of Venezuela's forest cover.

Hansen's research shows that Venezuela lost 1.25 million hectares of forest cover, or 2.1 percent, between 2001-2012.

Total forest areaDense forest areaForest gainForest lossTotal land area
>10% tree cover (ha)% total land cover>50% tree cover (ha)% total land cover2001-2012 (ha)% total forest cover2001-2012 (ha)% total forest cover(ha)
Amazonas1764649897.0%1746186495.9%1730445598.1%644040.4%18201001
Anzoátegui170663736.8%127628427.5%75322144.1%1080656.3%4643486
Apure168828123.5%114177715.9%78505246.5%604963.6%7174841
Aragua39680757.9%28521741.6%18618446.9%111312.8%685865
Barinas144732340.2%104353629.0%70095548.4%950936.6%3602000
Bolivar1942175482.5%1876021579.6%1833711594.4%2310711.2%23553487
Carabobo23478953.2%18111641.0%14320661.0%41261.8%441361
Cojedes69168547.9%50418034.9%31830246.0%175482.5%1443283
Delta Amacuro342869588.3%336954686.8%332130096.9%108750.3%3882978
Distrito Capital1720552.5%1258138.4%837248.7%1851.1%32753
Falcón111356941.3%81757930.3%57588951.7%714426.4%2699558
Guсrico178406526.9%107269116.2%43459524.4%872724.9%6640976
Lara81866443.1%55636029.3%39243847.9%339984.2%1901641
Mérida85344266.5%73292157.1%57967867.9%200792.4%1282709
Miranda72192184.9%65675877.2%58505681.0%186842.6%850334
Monagas138709848.4%121762242.5%106674376.9%14141410.2%2866532
Nueva Esparta1770017.6%1078210.7%728341.1%1210.7%100483
Portuguesa86192244.6%68780135.6%47358354.9%554296.4%1934192
Sucre87846682.3%81320876.1%75130685.5%199812.3%1067948
Tсchira74525169.2%61718757.3%51259068.8%340004.6%1076809
Trujillo51075763.3%41602551.5%32035462.7%182623.6%807327
Vargas8395884.9%7665477.5%6832081.4%10941.3%98856
Yaracuy38482462.0%32797852.8%27465371.4%116673.0%620965
Zulia201212746.2%170424739.1%146562972.8%1286386.4%4353233
Peru5885343865.4%5374412859.7%4936627883.9%12450732.1%89962615


Cattle ranching is the biggest driver of deforestation in Venezuela. In the 1980s and 1990s, gold mining and logging were important causes of deforestation and forest degradation, but logging has dwindled in recent years. Gold mining still causes intense damage where it occurs, but limited to southern reaches of the country. There is potential to expand coal and bauxite mining in the country, potentially putting forests at risk.

In the mid-2000s, former president Hugo Chavez proposed a controversial pipeline that would run 5,000 miles south through the heart of the Amazon rainforest. But the project failed to get off the ground.

On paper Venezuela has protected more than a third of its land mass in its system of parks and reserves. But many of these protected areas have suffered from incursion by illegal loggers and miners.

Charts showing forest cover and loss in Venezuela











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Venezuela Forest Figures

Forest Cover
Total forest area: 47,713,000 ha
% of land area: 54.1%
Primary forest cover: n/a
% of land area: n/a
% total forest area: n/a
Deforestation Rates
Annual change in forest cover: -287,600 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.6%
Change in rate 90-00 vs 00-05: 5.9%
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in rate 90-00 vs 00-05: n/a
Forest Classification
Public: n/a
Private: n/a
Other: n/a

Production: 38.1%
Protection: n/a
Conservation: 61.9%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: n/a
None or unknown: n/a
Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 47,713,000 ha
Primary: n/a
Modified natural: n/a
Semi-natural: n/a
Production plantation: n/a
Production plantation: n/a
Plantations
Plantations, 2005: n/a
% of total forest cover: n/a
Annual change rate (00-05): n/a
- M t
Below-ground biomass: - M t
Area annually affected by

Fire
: 14,000 ha
Insects: n/a
Diseases: n/a
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: 1,360
Critically endangered: 3
Endangered: 6
Vulnerable: 50
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 8121000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 21000 m3 o.b.
Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: $43,856,000
Wood fuel: n/a
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: $43,856,000

More forest statistics for Venezuela

Suggested reading - Books

CIA-World Factbook Profile
FAO-Forestry Profile
VenezuelAnalysis.com



Last updated: 23 Jul 2014