According to new research published in the journal Science Advances, a third of tropical African plants are at risk of extinction. A team led by Dr. Thomas Couvreur of the French National Institute for Sustainable Development, collected data across Africa, documenting 22,000 different species of plants on the continent.
Couvreur says that his team found evidence that a large number of rare plant species in Africa were going extinct.
“Our results underline the high level of extinction risk of the tropical African flora. Thirty-three percent of the species are potentially threatened with extinction, and another third of species are likely rare, potentially becoming threatened in the near future,” the study concluded.
Couvreur says that not enough attention has been paid to the loss of plant biodiversity all over the world.
“While the conservation status of the majority of vertebrate species has been assessed, the same cannot be said for plants, although they are critical to earth ecosystems. This is especially true in tropical regions where the flora is very diverse but remains poorly documented,” Couvreur said.
The research warns that many countries in western Africa are among the worst affected, with some eastern regions facing serious loss of plant biodiversity as well, including Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia. In these areas, the researchers fear that 40% of the wild plants could be lost.
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It isn’t just Africa either, this is happening all over the world. According to a UN report released this year, 1 million animal species are currently threatened by extinction. Another study, published this year in Nature, noted that 571 plant species were have been declared extinct since 1750. Some naysayers may argue that extinction is a natural part of the life cycle on planet earth, and this may be true, but the rate of extinction is rapidly increasing. Plant species are going extinct at a rate 350 times faster than the historical average, according to new research published in the journal Current Biology.
At least 571 plant species have gone extinct since 1750, four times more than the current listing of extinct plants pic.twitter.com/km9sSkLy52
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) June 11, 2019