A third of the world’s trees in danger

An examination of the 60,000 tree species in the world shows that 30% of them are currently threatened with extinction.

500 experts have worked on tree assessment over the past five years.

By M. Diao

C’is a truism that trees are the heart of the natural ecosystem. The essential character of the function of tree species for biodiversity is well established. These store 50% of terrestrial carbon. The other virtue of these plants relates to the protection provided against extreme weather conditions, to name only hurricanes and tsunamis. Beyond this reminder, we note today that several trees threatened with extinction provide habitat and food for millions of species of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, insects and microorganisms.

In view of the above, the report on: “The state of trees in the world”, recently published by the British association Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), should be understood as yet another alert relating to the many perils that threaten the natural ecosystem.

Two emerging threats

The greatest perils that can cause trees to disappear are habitat loss due to agriculture, grazing and overexploitation that results from logging and harvesting. The new documentation notes that one in three trees harvested for timber is at risk of extinction. The authors also report that climate change and extreme weather conditions are emerging threats to tree species globally. Clearly, as temperature and weather change around the world, many trees are at risk of losing areas of suitable habitat. At least 180 tree species are directly threatened by rising sea levels and severe weather events.

The authors of the new document, (one of the first assessments of threatened trees in the world), also have the merit of going beyond the observations, by proposing concrete solutions capable of preventing what would be, it must be said. , an environmental disaster.

The Old Continent, often set up as a model, is not well off. As proof, 58% of native European trees are threatened with extinction in the wild. Another edifying example, Brazil has the largest number of tree species in the world (8,847), with the particularity of sheltering the most endangered plant species (1,788).

17,500 endangered tree species

An examination of the 60,000 tree species in the world shows that 30% of them are currently threatened with extinction. This represents around 17,500 endangered plants. The report warns that there are twice as many plant species at risk in the world than endangered mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles combined. It should be noted that one in five tree species is directly used by humans, among others for food, fuel, wood and medicine.

Despite the value of the trees, many are threatened with extinction due to overexploitation and mismanagement. Other disturbing figures unveiled by the report, more than 440 tree species are on the brink of extinction. This means that these are less than 50 individuals in the wild. In terms of solutions, it is suggested that identifying endangered trees and ensuring that they are protected is the most effective way to prevent extinction and restore endangered species.

That said, some data made public does give a glimmer of hope. Indeed, no less than 64% of all tree species can be found in at least one protected area. About 30% are likely to grow in botanical gardens, seed banks or other ex situ collections but provided that additional measures are taken.

In the end, with a view to limiting threats, the report published by the British association BGCI proposes, among other things, increased funding from governments and companies for threatened tree species as well as increased coverage. protected areas.


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