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Almost a third of world’s tree species at risk of extinction

Nearly one in three tree species are at risk of extinction including one of London’s most beautiful blooms.

The magnolia tree, which brings pink blossom throughout the capital but particularly to Kensington, Chelsea, and Notting Hill, are among the most threatened in parts of the world.

More than 440 species are on the brink of vanishing altogether, the first state of the world’s trees report, published by Botanic Gardens Conservation International, warns.

This includes the Menai whitebeam, with just 30 trees growing in its North Wales home, and the Mulanje cedar in Malawi, with just a few left on Mulanje Mountain.

England’s treasured oak, maple and ebonies are also at risk.

The study looks at how the world’s almost 60,000 tree species are faring, revealing that 30 per cent, or 17,500, are at risk of being wiped out.

a close up of a tree: Magnolia trees at Royal Botanical Gardens Kew 010921

© Getty Images Magnolia trees at Royal Botanical Gardens Kew 010921

The biggest threats are clearances for agricultural crops, logging for timber, and clearing forest for livestock,

Climate change is also a rising danger–as temperatures rise and weather changes, many trees could lose suitable habitats with cloud forest species in Central America at particular risk.

At least 180 tree species are directly threatened by sea level rise and severe weather, including magnolias in the Caribbean, while increasing risks of fire are a major threat to trees in Madagascar, and a risk to US oak species.

Islands have the highest proportion of threatened trees, with 69 per cent of trees on the UK Overseas Territory of St Helena at risk of extinction, and 59 per cent of those found in Madagascar.

The research includes data from the last five years, interpreted by some 60 institutions and 500 experts.

In Europe, 58 per cent of native European trees are threatened with extinction in the wild, with whitebeams and rowan the most at risk, while Brazil has the highest number of threatened tree species.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International secretary-general Paul Smith said the 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 trees 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.” 

Reference: Evening Standard: Laura Sharman  





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