“More than one-in-four of all flowering plants are under threat of extinction according to the latest report to confirm the ongoing destruction of much of the natural world by human activity.
As a result, many of nature’s most colourful specimens could be lost to the world before scientists even discover them, claims the research, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The results reflect similar global studies of other species groups by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which estimates that one-in-five of all mammals, nearly one-in-three amphibians and one-in-eight birds are vulnerable to being wiped out completely.
“If we take the number of species that are currently known to be threatened, and add to that those that are yet to be discovered, we can estimate that between 27% and 33% of all flowering plants will be threatened with extinction,” said David Roberts, one of the co-authors, of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent.
The paper adds: “These estimates are based on immediate threat, and do not consider further development of destructive factors – including climate disruption.” The paper’s third, lead, author was Lucas Joppa of Microsoft Research in Cambridge.
The warning comes as there is growing international recognition of the value of the natural world to humans in providing ecosystem services, from flood protection and medicines to spiritual spaces and enjoyment.
“Plants are the basis for much of life on earth with virtually all other species depending on them; if you get rid of those you get rid of a lot of the things above them,” added Roberts.
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