(UR) Surrey, UK — According to scientists, there are roughly 391,000 recorded species of vascular plants in the world, which are a large group that contains those plants with lignified tissues for “conducting water and minerals through the plant.” Shockingly, a report released last week says that more than 20 percent of those plants are threatened with extinction. That’s 1 in every 5 plants.
In the first global report of its kind to focus on flora in this way, scientists examined and catalogued plant life and their risk for extinction. Professor Kathy Willis, the Director of Science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, points out that research of this type has been conducted before. While other “State of the World’s”-style reports tend to focus more on animals, humans issues (like family), and nearly everything else we might be concerned with, this report highlights the growing danger and importance of many plant species.
Many factors put plants in danger of extinction, and the report is careful to highlight some of the causes. While climate change is mentioned, it is not specifically the immediate cause of danger. Other, more directly important factors — like the destruction of habitat when clearing land for commercial farming, invasive species, and disease — appear to be causing the most drastic damage in the now. Luckily, it isn’t all doom and gloom.
Reports like these have the power to help increase awareness, allowing for more informed strategies to take shape. With this being the first of what is slated to become an annual examination, the State of the World’s Plants has the power to inform government, corporate, and individual conservation efforts, while remaining mindful of other needs — like the growing global population and the food needs that growth generates.
By targeting particularly endangered species and areas, identified through reports such as these, effective conservation strategies can be developed and implemented. With more knowledge and understanding, the more impact we will have and the more we can preserve species of plants that are drastically important to us as medicines and foods.
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