Plant life does not escape 6th mass extinction

Twenty percent of the world’s plant species are directly threatened with extinction – mostly due to human activity, says a group of scientists from Britain’s Botanic Gardens at Kew, London’s Natural History Museum and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). We risk losing one out of 5 of the total estimated plant biodiversity of 380.000 unique species.

The United Nations have declared the year 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. It really isn’t much more than an attempt to communicate the severity of what has already been dubbed Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction. Driving factors like deforestation, climate change and agricultural intensification – and marine disturbances such as overfishing and ocean acidification are still largely unabated.

From 18 to 29 October 2010 biodiversity COP10 will be held in Nagoya Japan; a UN summit where governments will try to decide on new targets to slow down the decline. The new plant study provides the baseline for these biodiversity targets.

© Rolf Schuttenhelm |

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