Before humans settled in western Europe the majority of its surface was covered in forest. Since then much of the natural forest has been displaced by agriculture, buildings and infrastructure.
In a list of 16 western European nations, Switzerland was ranked 9th in terms of the percentage of its surface covered in forest (32%). Finland, the nation with the greatest forest cover in the list had more than double the forest cover (73.7%). Finland was followed by Sweden (68.7%), Austria (47.2%) and Spain (37.2%). Portugal (36.2%), Luxembourg (34.5%), Germany (32.7%) and Italy (32.2%) all had more forest as a percentage of their surface than Switzerland.
The three nations with the least forest cover included the UK (13.2%), Ireland (11.3%) and Netherlands (10.9%). The figures were published this week by Switzerland's Federal Statistical Office (FSO).
Another nation that has been hit hard by human activity is New Zealand. A series of maps shows how more than 80% of the country was covered in forest around 1000 AD. By 1840, between 500 and 600 years after the first wave of humans arrived, deforestation had reduced forest coverage to around half. By 2000, New Zealand's forests covered only a quarter of its area. Most deforestation was caused by burning (before 1840) or clearing for agriculture (after 1840).