The Earth could lose more than one fifth of all known plants — forever! Story from the Guardian:
One in five of the world’s plant species – the basis of all life on earth – are at risk of extinction, according to a landmark study published today.
At first glance, the 20% figure looks far better than the previous official estimate of almost three-quarters, but the announcement is being greeted with deep concern.
The previous estimate that 70% of plants were either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable was based on what scientists universally acknowledged were studies heavily biased towards species already thought to be under threat.
Today the first ever comprehensive assessment of plants, from giant tropical rainforests to the rarest of delicate orchids, concludes the real figure is at least 22%. It could well be higher because hundreds of species being discovered by scientists each year are likely to be in the “at risk” category.
“We think this is a conservative estimate,” said Eimear Nic Lughadha, one of the scientists at Kew Gardens in west London responsible for the project.
The plant study is also considered critical to understanding the level of threat to all the natural world’s biodiversity, said Craig Hilton-Taylor of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which runs the world’s offical “red list” of threatened species. “Plants are the basis of life, and unless we know what’s happening to plants it has many implications,” said Hilton-Taylor.
The results will be presented to world leaders meeting at Nagoya in Japan in October to discuss the world’s biodiversity crisis, along with new red lists for vertebrates and several groups of the planet’s millions of invertebrate species…
[continues in the Guardian]