40% Of World's Plant Species Are At Risk Of Extinction, Say Scientists

40% Of World's Plant Species Are At Risk Of Extinction, Say Scientists”

"We are delighted to be partnering with Kew to publish the scientific papers behind the State of the World's Plants and Fungi 2020 report", said Prof.

The report takes a deep dive into the state of the world's plant and fungal kingdoms and brought together 210 scientists from 42 countries, including UCC plant scientist Dr Eoin Lettice. The new approach used by scientists this year predicted the overall proportion of threatened species to be 39.4%, nearly double the 21% of global plant species estimated to be threatened with extinction in 2016.

The at-risk species included 723 medicinal-use plants, amid rising global demand for naturally sourced medicines.

Researchers believe that relying on a tiny fraction of plants and fungi for our food and energy, has not only left us vulnerable to climate change, but has also contributed to malnutrition.

"Just 15 plants provide 90% of humanity's food energy intake".

A report suggests that biodiversity loss is greater than previous estimates and that a significant number of the world's plants are at risk of extinction.

'Societies have been too dependent on too few species for too long.

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Plants and fungi are the building blocks of life on planet Earth. "We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality-of-life worldwide", Professor Robert Watson, an atmospheric chemist at the University of East Anglia, told Forbes in 2019, commenting on an inter-governmental report by the United Nations, on the potential extinction of plant species.

Kew scientists and collaborators researched which overlooked and underutilised plants could hold the key to future-proofing our food production systems.

They are calling for risk assessments to be fast tracked, using technology such as artificial intelligence, and for more funding for plant conservation.

The report revealed that only a small proportion of existing plant species are used as foods and biofuels.

The report also describes a slew of species that have been identified recently, including two new relatives of cassava from Brazil, which experts say could future-proof the food crop by making it pest- or disease-resistant. "We have particularly earmarked the gaps in our knowledge, the changes we are seeing, the species being named new to science and the shocking pace of biodiversity loss".

"International collaboration can help us to identify the plants and fungi that will make clean, sustainable energy accessible to everyone", said contributor Mary Suzan Abbo, managing director of the Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation at Makerere University, Uganda, who said the approach could be used to cut down on unsustainable use of wood and charcoal. At the Natural History Museum we want to unlock this treasure trove so that everyone, including citizen scientists, researchers and data analysts, can access it'.

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