The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew released today their first annual report where they found that one in five of the world’s plant species is threatened with extinction due to many factors.
This report revealed that about 21 percent of plants are currently threatened with extinction caused by climate change, the loss of their habitat, diseases, and even the threat of insects that might contribute to eradicating determinate species of plants.
Also, according to the report, there is an estimate of about 391,000 vascular plants that are known in the world, and about 396,000 of flowering plants are included to be known in the scientific field. Actually, the countries that held the biggest source of vascular plants are Brazil, China, and Australia, where about 5,500 of these plants are located in those countries in between years 2006 and 2015.
Last year just about 2,000 new plants were discovered and logged into the International Plant Name Index. The most part of these plants were discovered in some of the less-studied regions in the world.
Many of these new species of plants that include trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants have been discovered during fieldwork. There were also new species that have been discovered as a result of re-examining herbarium sheets, which often contain plant specimens collected many years ago.
A plant for everything?
On this report, it was also found that over 30,000 plants have already a documented use as they are found there as “useful plants”. These plants are used to satisfy some needs for humans and even animals.
“Plants provide us with everything – food, fuel, medicines, timber and they are incredibly important for our climate regulation. Without plants, we would not be here. We are facing some devastating realities if we do not take stock and re-examine our priorities and efforts,” said Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and the responsible of leading this report.
Actually over 5,500 plants are used for human food, over 17,000 for medicines, 11,000 for materials for textiles, 2,500 for making poison, 1,300 for social use such as tobacco, 5,300 as a gene source, 8,000 for environmental use, about 3,600 for animal food, and the less used are about 1,600 that are used for making fuel and about 680 for invertebrate food.
Fading plant threats
As said before, the main factor that affects and contributes to the extinction of plants is climate change. It represents less that the 10 percent (about 4 percent) of the threat to many species of plants due to the high concentration of Carbon dioxide that is increasing every day, making the climate more “warmer” every time.
Another factor is the global land-cover change, where 10 out of 14 of the world’s biomes have been seen decreasing in vegetation productivity in between the years 2000 and 2013. Also about 75 percent of Earth’s ice-free land shows evidence of alteration as a result of human land use.
Climate change and the land-cover change are factors that go together, where climate change is having a large impact on many biomes and, in combination with human activity, is bringing about a substantial transformation of plant communities.
It was also found that certain plants are a factor of risk. About 5,000 species are classified as “invasive plants”, where at least 13,168 species of vascular plants are known to become naturalized outside their native environment.
Source: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew