Plants in peril

Study finds over one-fifth of world’s plants in peril

British scientists recently released the first-ever global analysis of threatened plant species and found that more than one in five major plant species sampled is endangered or vulnerable to extinction.

Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London’s Natural History Museum and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature determined that 22 percent of the 7,000 plant species studied are endangered or at risk of becoming endangered, mostly due to human interference in the natural environment. The study found that agricultural development, which eliminates plants’ natural habitat, was the main reason for the high number of at-risk species. Other causes include logging, development and using land for livestock.

Scientists compiled a Red List Index for Plants, which will be added to the IUCN’s set of Red Lists designed to help monitor change. The study was released prior to a United Nations summit—scheduled for mid-October in Japan—that will address plant and animal conservation efforts.