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One in three tree species face extinction

One in three tree species face extinction, according to the first-ever State of the World’s Trees report. 

The report, which was published by the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) examined 60,000 tree species and found that 30% are currently at risk of extinction. 

They also found that over 440 tree species are on the very brink of extinction, meaning there are fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild. 

These species are found all over the world, from the Mulanje cedar in Malawi to the Menai whitebeam found in North Wales. 

According to the report, the greatest threats facing trees include habitat loss from agriculture and grazing and over-exploitation from logging and harvesting. 

The authors also point out that climate change and extreme weather events are also increasingly a cause for concern. As temperature and weather patterns are changing, many trees risk losing areas of suitable habitat. 

At least 180 tree species are also directly threatened by sea-level rise. The threat is most severe to island species including magnolias in the Caribbean. 

low angle photography of green trees

However, despite these stark findings, the authors of the report do have hope for the future and highlight that identifying which trees are at risk and ensuring these are protected is the most effective way to prevent extinction and restore endangered species. 

Paul Smith, secretary-general at the BGCI said: ‘This report is a wake-up call to everyone around the world that trees need help. Every tree species matters — to the millions of other species that depend on trees, and to people all over the world.

‘For the first time, thanks to the information provided by the State of the World’s Tree Report we can pinpoint exactly which tree species need our help, so policymakers and conservation experts can deploy the resources and expertise needed to prevent future extinctions.’

Sara Oldfield, co-chair at the Global Tree Specialist Group added: ‘Trees are vital for our future and for a healthy world we need tree species diversity. Each tree species has a unique ecological role to play. With 30% of the world’s tree species threatened with extinction, we need to urgently scale up conservation action.’

Photo by Arnaud Mesureur

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