The IUCN Red List – An Urgent Call for Immediate Action
3 May 2006
The number of known threatened species has reached 16,119. Mediterranean flowers and a quarter of coniferous trees are amongst the species now known to be facing extinction.
784 species have been declared officially Extinct, including the St Helena Olive and a further 65 are only found in captivity or cultivation.
Of the 40,177 species assessed using the IUCN Red List criteria, 16,119 are now listed as threatened with extinction.
A total of 8,394 plants and lichens, including a quarter of the world’s coniferous trees and over half its cycads, but the figure may be a gross underestimate because fewer than 3% of the world’s 1.9 million described species have been assessed by the Red List.
Melting Icecaps …Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are fast becoming one of the most high-profile casualties of global warming. But the impact of climate change is increasingly felt by all polar species including plants, as summer sea ice is expected to decrease by 50-100% over the next 50-100 years. It is predicted by climate change scientists that the death of plants in the tundra would lead to a rapid acceleration in global warming as CO2 is released into the atmosphere.
Dying Deserts …
Humankind’s global footprint on the planet extends even to regions that would appear to be far removed from human influence. Deserts and drylands may appear relatively untouched, but their specially adapted animals and plants are also some of the rarest and most threatened. Slowly but surely deserts are being emptied of their diverse and specialized wildlife, almost unnoticed.
A key addition to the 2006 Red List of Threatened Species is the first comprehensive regional assessment of selected marine groups.
As well as being an important source of food, freshwater ecosystems are essential for clean drinking water and sanitation. Over a billion people worldwide still do not have access to safe water. The continuing decline in wetlands and freshwater ecosystems will make it increasingly difficult to address this need and maintain existing supplies.
“We need fish for food, but human activities in watersheds, through forest clearance, pollution, water abstraction and eutrophication are major factors influencing water quality and quantity. This has a major impact on freshwater species, and in turn on the wellbeing of riparian communities,” said Dr Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Coordinator, IUCN Species Programme.
The 2006 Red List includes additional species from the Mediterranean region, one of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots with nearly 25,000 species of plants – of which 60% are found nowhere else in the world.
In the Mediterranean , the pressures from urbanization, mass tourism and intensive agriculture have pushed more and more native species, like the bugloss Anchusa crispa and centuary Femeniasia balearica (both Critically Endangered) towards extinction. The bugloss is only known from 20 small sites and less than 2,200 mature centaury plants remain.
The Cypriot Pallid squill (Squilla morrissii ) is also on the list of critically endangered Mediterranean species.
But what can be done to halt and reverse the decline of the Earth’s biodiversity on which so much of our own well-being depends?
You Can Help - Act Now!
Thanks to conservation action, the status of certain species has improved: proof that conservation does work.
Follow the weblinks below to find out more about how you and your botanic garden can help threatened species worldwide.
17 November 2014
Flora of North America North of Mexico Volume 9: Magnoliophyta: Picramniaceae to Rosaceae will be published in January
14 November 2014
14 November 2014
31 October 2014
31 October 2014
Global Trees Campaign
Over 8000 tree species, 10% of the world’s total, are threatened with extinction. The Global Trees Campaign is addressing the problems with help from botanic gardens and BGCI.
Arkive Plant Images
ARKive is the Noah's Ark for the Internet era - a unique global initiative, gathering together into one centralised digital library, films, photographs and audio recordings of the world’s species. ARKive are looking for images of plants so if you have any you can share please contact them.
Earth Day Guide to Planet Repair
Celebrate Earth Day with environmental activities, and support BGCI by shopping at Amazon.