World's fruit and nut trees seriously threatened with extinction
8 May 2009
Many of the world’s fruit and nut trees are seriously threatened with extinction, according to the newly released Red List of Trees of Central Asia. The list is published by Fauna and Flora International (FFI) in collaboration with BGCI as part of the Global Trees Campaign.
The new report identifies 44 tree species in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan as globally threatened with extinction, such as Pyrus korshinskyi, pictured left, a pear species identified as Critically Endangered. Many of these species occur in the unique fruit and nut forests of Central Asia – an estimated 90% of which have been destroyed in the past 50 years.
The Central Asian fruit and nut forests have been described as a biological Eden and have long held an important role in human culture. It is believed that many of the domesticated fruit and nut trees we use today originated from these wild varieties. For example, domestic apples are now known to be derived from the wild species Malus sieversii, which is native to Central Asia and is identified as threatened in the report.
Owing to the often fragmented, mountainous geography of the landscape, these wild apple, plum, cherry, apricot, walnut and other plant species display exceptionally high genetic diversity, which could prove vital in the development of new disease-resistant or climate-tolerant fruit varieties. This could be of huge importance to future food security as the global climate changes.
The Red List of Trees of Central Asia is available to download here – a Russian version will be available shortly.
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