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Environment

One-fifth of world's plants facing extinction

The boxes of specimens in the new wing of the herbarium in Kew Gardens in London
The boxes of specimens in the new wing of the herbarium in Kew Gardens in London Photo: Reuters
2 min

A new study released Wednesday has concluded that more than a fifth of the world's plant species are at risk of extinction; a trend with potentially catastrophic effects for life on Earth.

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The research, carried out by the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Natural History Museum in London and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) concluded that 22 per cent of plants should be classified as "threatened".

The majority of plants at risk can be found in the tropical rainforest.

Stephen Hopper, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew said the main reason for this is “human-induced habitat loss”.

The study is considered to be the most accurate mapping on plant loss yet.

"We cannot sit back and watch plant species disappear - plants are the basis of all life on Earth, providing clean air, water, food and fuel. All animal and bird life depends on them, and so do we," Hopper said.

The study comes ahead of a meeting in Nagoya, Japan, from 18 to 29 October, where members of the UN's Biodiversity Convention aim to set new targets to protect endangered wildlife.

A study by two Australian authors released Tuesday showed that fewer mammal species than believed may be extinct.

Diana Fisher and Simon Blomberg of the University of Queensland said they had identified 187 mammals that have been "missing" since 1500, 67 species of which had subsequently been found again.
 

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