A study conducted by the Natural History Museum in London, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K. and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has highlighted that one in five plant species are threatened with extinction, putting plants on a par with mammals in terms of their risks of dying out.
Scientists from these institutes carried out assessments from the Sampled Red List Index, on a representative sample of the world’s plants. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Director, Professor Stephen Hopper, says: <quote>
“This study confirms what we already suspected, that plants are under threat and the main cause is human induced habitat loss. For the first time we have a clear global picture of extinction risk to the world’s known plants. This report shows the most urgent threats and the most threatened regions. In order to answer crucial questions like how fast are we losing species and why, and what we can do about it, we need to establish a baseline so that we have something against which to measure change. The Sampled Red List Index for Plants does exactly that by assessing a large sample of plant species that are collectively representative of all the world’s plants.” <unquote>
The study also revealed:
* About one third of the species (33%) in our sample are insufficiently known to carry out an assessment. This demonstrates the scale of the task facing botanists – many plants are so poorly known that we still don’t know if they are endangered or not.
* Of almost 4,000 species that have been carefully assessed, over one fifth (22%) are classed as Threatened.
* Plants are more threatened than birds
* Gymnosperms (the plant group including conifers and cycads) are the most endangered group.
* The most threatened habitat is tropical rain forest.
* Most threatened species are found in the tropics.
* The most threatening process is man-induced habitat loss, mostly the conversion of natural habitats for agriculture or livestock use.
Learn more about this study here.
( Adapted from material provided by Royal Botanic Gardens Kew website)