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Major Threats to Plant Diversity

It is estimated that there are around 400.000 plant species in the world, and at least 25% are threatened with extinction.  Humans are the main cause of extinction and the principle threat to species at risk of extinction.

  • Habitat loss and degradation are the leading threats.
  • Introductions of alien species. Some of the worst include cats and rats, green crabs, zebra mussels, the African tulip tree and the brown tree snake. Introductions of alien species can happen deliberately or unintentionally, for example, by organisms "hitch-hiking" in containers, ships, cars or soil.
  • Over-exploitation.  Resource extraction, hunting, and fishing for food, pets, and medicine threatens many species.
  • Pollution and disease
  • Climate change induced by humans is increasingly recognised as one of the most serious threats. Climate change has many effects, from altering migratory species patterns to causing coral bleaching.

Find Out More

The IUCN Red List
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ provides taxonomic, conservation status and distribution information on plants and animals that have been globally evaluated using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.

Plants for a Future
Plants For A Future is a resource centre for rare and unusual plants, particularly those which have edible, medicinal or other uses. The site features a database of plants to help humanity discover and use a wider range than the twenty plants that provide the majority of our food.