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A new assessment found that at least 30% of the world’s 60,000 tree species are nearing extinction in the wild. The number of tree species threatened— 17,500— is twice that of threatened mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles combined.
Why this Matters: Trees are crucial to maintaining the earth’s ecosystems. Trees not only house flora and fauna but also help mitigate the effects of climate change. Forests sequester almost one-third of the world’s emissions and provide much-needed shade as the world’s cities get hotter.
But over the past 300 years, global forest area has dangerously dwindled by about 40%, while 29 countries have seen over 90% of their forest cover disappear.
“Each tree species has a unique ecological role to play,” Dr. Malin Rivers of the charity Botanic Gardens Conservation International told the BBC. “With 30% of the world’s tree species threatened with extinction, we need to urgently scale up conservation action.”
Saving the Trees
About 142 species have already gone extinct, and 442 have fewer than 50 individuals left alive. According to this new assessment, the biggest threats to the world’s trees are razing forests to grow crops (impacting 29% of species), logging (27%), livestock grazing or farming (14%), development (13%), and fire (13%).
To combat this potential mass extinction, experts recommend that governments invest in preserving existing forests, expanding protected areas, storing species near extinction in botanical gardens or seed banks, and collecting money for tree conservation.
“The report gives us that road map to mobilize the wider conservation community and other key players to ensure that tree conservation is at the forefront of the conservation agenda,” said Rivers.
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Earlier this year, Ecuador’s new President Guillermo Lasso issued decrees to expand oil and mining projects in the Amazon. Indigenous communities from the country’s rainforest are now suing the government in an effort to stop these projects, calling them a “policy of death,” according to reporting by Reuters. Community […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The giant sequoia trees in California’s Sequoia National Park are over 1,000 years old and could live another 2,000 years, but climate change-fueled fires are killing them. The trees can usually withstand the flames, but the intensity of recent fires has been overpowering. Last year’s Castle Fire killed up […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor As wildfires and deforestation grip the Amazon rainforest, Indigenous communities are urging world governments to pledge to protect 80% of the forest by 2025. The groups launched their campaign at a biodiversity conference in France, where experts from around the world are laying the groundwork for the UN’s delayed […]
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