One in Five Plant Species Endangered

One in five of the world’s 380,000 plant species is threatened with extinction according to a study just released by Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London’s Natural History Museum and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  

The study marks the first global analysis of the world’s plants ever conducted, and scientists hope it will serve as a baseline to measure conservation efforts. The findings, which were based on data analyzed in a five-year study and complied into the Sampled Red List Index for Plants, found that 22% of species are endangered, critically endangered, or vulnerable. The report also said that tropical forests, such as Brazil’s rainforests, are most at risk.

“The single greatest threat is conversion of natural habitats to agricultural use, directly impacting thirty three percent of threatened species,” according to the report, which comes out in anticipation of a United Nations’ Biodiversity Summit in Nagoya, Japan scheduled for mid-October.

“This study confirms what we already suspected, that plants are under threat and the main cause is human induced habitat loss. For the first time we have a clear global picture of extinction risk to the world’s known plants,” Stephen Hopper, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens said in Science Daily. “The 2020 biodiversity target that will be discussed in Nagoya is ambitious, but in a time of increasing loss of biodiversity it is entirely appropriate to scale up our efforts. Plants are the foundation of biodiversity and their significance in uncertain climatic, economic and political times has been overlooked for far too long,” he added.

“Present day human activities are pushing more plants towards extinction, but if the world’s governments take the right steps … we do have the potential to safeguard plant life and the creatures that depend on it,” said Steve Bachman, a plant conservation analyst at Kew told Reuters.

According to Reuters: The study involved sampling about 7,000 plant species drawn from five major groups. Both common and rare plants species were assessed to try to give an accurate picture of how plants were faring around the world, the scientists said at a briefing for reporters. Researchers studied a random sample of about 1,500 species from each group, since assessing the threat to all the world’s estimated 380,000 plant species would be too enormous a task.

“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,” said Hopper.

“The diversity of plants underpins all life on earth, so it is sobering that our own species is threatening the survival of many thousands of plant species,” said Neil Brummitt, a botanical diversity researcher at the Natural History Museum. “We’ve set the baseline. Now we need to all work together to safeguard not only the future of plants but the future of ourselves.”


photo credit: Neezam75 |


Janine H.
Janine H6 years ago

And "we" seem to not care for plants (because they do not speak, do not show feelings - "we" do not understand, maybe they do), for nature itself... :(

Janine H.
Janine H6 years ago

This is a very sad story. Other animals has to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day). "We" destroy averything around us and "we" forget, that everything is important to survive, too.

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado6 years ago

Thanks for the plants that live in our planet!

Tim Cheung
Tim C7 years ago


Anja N.
Justin R7 years ago

Soylent Green = The Final Solution....

Andrew B.
Andrew Butt7 years ago

Had heard this story, it is bad for insects and other wildlife that rely on certain plants for survival. These plants are crucial to the survival of animals in general.

Hartson D.
Hartson Doak7 years ago

I live in Hawaii, the extinction capital of the US. There is a federally fund program called the Kaulunani Grant program. It is designed to restore native trees and other native plants back into the habitat. Using this program I have twice reintroduced natives and endangered plants back into their natural range. Check with the state Department of Forestry and Wildlife in your area. They too may have a similar program. These trees are FREE with enough volunteer or offset expenses.

Walter G.
Walter G7 years ago

Don't cry, when all the plants are under housing and golf courses, Monsanto has a surprise for us. Announcing Soylent Green!

Sue M.
Sue M7 years ago


Rajshree B.
Rajshree B7 years ago

We are nothing without our fauna and flora. On the other hand, nature will thrive if humans were not here! We have to understand that and protect our plants and animals!