9,000 Plants Safe From Extinction
19 January 2005
Botanic Gardens provide a safe haven for over a quarter of known threatened plants
The results of a two-year study by BGCI (Botanic Gardens Conservation International) into the devastating effects of global plant extinction have been announced today. The results represent a small light within an otherwise gloomy vista.
Approximately 9,000 endangered plants species have been located and identified in cultivation within the worldwide network of botanic gardens.
A new database called the Plant Search Database, launched by BGCI, a leading charity that unites botanic gardens across the world, has enabled gardens to research what they hold in their collections for the first time against an international list of plants, recorded alongside their IUCN Red Data Book status*. A significant number of plants have now been identified within botanic garden collections and these represent around a quarter of the world's known species of threatened plants.
Although the 1997 IUCN list of endangered plant species worldwide listed 34,000 plant species as endangered, it is estimated that anything up to 100,000 plants may be under serious threat of extinction due to mass habitat destruction and global climate change.
Peter Wyse Jackson, Secretary General of BGCI comments:
"This is an important step in helping to reverse the current extinction crisis that we face. BGCI is working with the botanic garden community to raise awareness about the plants they hold and the importance of these collections to future conservation efforts - they represent a living gene bank."
With over 200 million visitors a year and approximately 6.1 million living plant collections, botanic gardens are uniquely placed to act as sanctuaries for plants, as well as educating people about the devastating impact humankind has on many species. The work of botanic gardens in plant conservation is of vital importance at this time when, for tens of thousands of plants, it is quite literally "one minute to midnight".
*Screened against 1997 and 2003 IUCN Red Data Book
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