1 in 5 Plants are Extinct ~ Humans Need to Step-Up as Caretakers

wpid-20140513_145031.jpg According to a newly released report from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, in the United Kingdom, only a small amount of plant life is “useful” to humans. The 84 page report titled ‘State of the World’s Plants’ is the first all-inclusive assessment of plant life. Researchers have now determined that some 31,128 plant species have a documented use.  The term ‘useful plants’ is used to describe plant species which have been documented as fulfilling a particular need for humans, animals or the wider environment. Not that other plants are useless, as they still provide us with oxygen!

Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Professor Stephen Hopper, said: “This study confirms what we already suspected, that plants are under threat and the main cause is human induced habitat loss. Plants are the foundation of biodiversity and their significance in uncertain climatic, economic and political times has been overlooked for far too long. 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.”

The report includes plant species known to science, not including algae or moss. To make their estimate of the planet’s plants, the Kew scientists searched through three prestigious databases: the Plant List, the International Plant Names Index and the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Botanists cut out the duplicates from more than a million different names. The Kew report was able to pare down the known species to a confident 391,000. The report concludes some 21 percent of those plants are threatened with extinction.

“Plants are absolutely fundamental to humankind,” Kathy Willis, science director at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London, who led the new report. “Plants provide us with everything – food, fuel, medicines, timber and they are incredibly important for our climate regulation. Without plants we would not be here. We are facing some devastating realities if we do not take stock and re-examine our priorities and efforts.”
“This report therefore provides the first step in filling this critical knowledge gap,” she continued. “But to have effect, the findings must serve to galvanize the international scientific, conservation, business and governmental communities to work together to fill the knowledge gaps we’ve highlighted and expand international collaboration, partnerships and frameworks for plant conservation and use.” 

Many people don’t understand it can take years, even decades for a plant to produce seed and multiply. Because of this, many of Earth’s species are becoming extinct. The upside is botanists are already taking extreme actions to save the plants, those species deemed useful, anyway. Buried in the side of a mountain in the Arctic sits The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a so-called doomsday bank of seeds for when things really go bad.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

28 thoughts on “1 in 5 Plants are Extinct ~ Humans Need to Step-Up as Caretakers

  1. So sad that as a race we keep on destroying the only planet we have. Who knows what we have already lost, and whether it might have been a cure for certain cancers or other illnesses. But despite that, we have no right to destroy our world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting post and all very true. Man does depend on plants and they do need to step up and protect the plants we consume. Great post, thanks for sharing – this is something mankind needs to spend much time on – to find a solution to the pollution on this earth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think we’ve hit bottom yet.. until we do, us humans will think that what we’re doing to the planet is ok. Wait until there is some wacky disease that is only cured by, say Elm trees. Do you want to know how fast we’d discover a cure for Dutch Elm Disease? Until then, we’ll only have minor laws to not move firewood, plant different trees and still import stuff from different countries… (insert crying Indian here… 😢)

      Liked by 1 person

    • It would be a cool (cold?) job to have! I’d probably be fired cuz I took the last of the organic corn to make a popcorn snack… 😥
      Seriously tho.. I hope it is successful. The problem is not just having the seeds, it’s if the original problem of why the plant went extinct is still a factor. If there’s no place left on earth to plant it, then what? It would have to be a hell-of-a terrarium to house a tree!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes. Professor Hopper was interviewed on Melbourne radio yesterday. He wasn’t very positive about Australia’s situation. I don’t remember the figures but we here are worse than the average. He said that as well as many of our native species becoming extinct there are many plants in our rain forest that haven’t yet been found. Many of these could have medicinal value. We, that is all of us, have certainly not been very good custodians of our world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The rain forests are certainly in trouble, in more ways than one. The sad part is we still keep hacking away at it! Gaaa!
      I would hope this project has shed light on the situation. Probably not, as things aren’t as bad as they could be yet. We still need to hit bottom as a species. A new comet hit would maybe do the trick 😉


  4. Pingback: #plants | PLANTS

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