Plant Extinction is Happening 500x Faster Than Before the Industrial Revolution

While we cover animal species extinctions a lot in ODP, but plants are also struggling to survive in a world that’s rapidly being altered by climate change. According to a new study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, 600 plant extinctions have taken place of the past two and a half centuries. As the Guardian explained, “The number of plants that have disappeared from the wild is more than twice the number of extinct birds, mammals and amphibians combined. The new figure is also four times the number of extinct plants recorded in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list.”Surprise! Humans at Fault: Plant extinction today is occurring at a rate that is 500 times greater than before the Industrial Revolution–and the researchers warn that this number could be an understatement. Our activity such as clear-cutting forests for mining, logging and agriculture is the primary driver of this mass extinction. In fact, we’re killing so many plants that many of them may not have even been discovered before becoming extinct. 

A Unique Study: As the BBC reported this particular study conducted by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Stockholm University,

  • Is an analysis of all documented plant extinctions in the world shows what lessons can be learned to stop future extinctions.
  • Is also “The first time we have an overview of what plants have already become extinct, where they have disappeared from and how quickly this is happening,” according to Dr. Aelys Humphreys of Stockholm University.

Dr. Humphreys also explained that “Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few could name an extinct plant.

Why it Matters: Plants are as the basis of most ecosystems, provide the air we breathe and also serve as a source of food for animals and humans. A sustained mass extinction of plants would have severe consequences for human life and can lead to extinctions of animals as well, such as insects that use plants for food and for laying their eggs. For now, we need to better understand which plants we’re losing and where they’re coming from so we can better manage our behavior and slow their extinction. Part of that management can result from the 30 by 30 plan which calls for 30% of the planet to be managed for nature by 2030—and for half the planet to be protected by 2050.

 

Up Next

British Landowners To Be Paid to Plant Native Trees

British Landowners To Be Paid to Plant Native Trees

by Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer The British government will pay landowners for creating new woodlands thanks to a new £16 million program by the country’s Forestry Commission. The fund will financially reward woodlands that help wildlife, increase public access, and reduce flooding, The Guardian reports. It’ll provide money for planting trees as well as […]

Continue Reading 299 words
Scientists Find New Way to Help California’s Forests Survive Wildfires

Scientists Find New Way to Help California’s Forests Survive Wildfires

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer As wildfires have become increasingly common across the West, there’s been a growing emphasis on forest management as a means of preventing and mitigating the effects of blazes. Emerging science suggests that a new way of replanting forests could protect areas from fires — rather than planting trees individually, […]

Continue Reading 476 words
Biden Administration Moves to Restore Tongass Roadless Rule

Biden Administration Moves to Restore Tongass Roadless Rule

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer The Biden administration has announced that it will “replace or repeal” a Trump rollback of the Clinton-Era “roadless rule” in the Tongass National Forest. The roadless rule protected 9.4 million acres of the forest, prohibiting road construction and timber harvesting. The Trump administration rolled back the rule in October 2020 to ease […]

Continue Reading 519 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.