The International Union for Conservation of Nature has reported that more than half of the known trees in Europe are at the risk of getting extinct. Few of these trees have been in existence before the previous ice age but the perennial woods of Europe are in more danger than the birds, bees, butterflies in the sixth mass extinction.
According to the European Red List of the IUCN, only freshwater mollusks and leafy plants have more risk of extinction than the trees. Thus they are a highly endangered group of species. After the evaluation of the 454 tree species native to Europe, analysts identified that 42 percent of the species face regional extinction threats. More than half of the endemic trees existing in Europe are in danger of dying out while 15 percent are in the category of critically endangered species. What’s alarming is that even among the trees in the safe zone, a dozen are on the edge of shifting to the threatened category while there is no data on 13 percent of the species.
Luc Bas, Director of the European Office of the IUCN said that human-led activities have resulted in the decline of the population and increased the extinction risk for several important species all across Europe. This report reveals the status of several species that have been overlooked while they are an integral part of the ecosystems of Europe, contributing to a better planet.
The number of known plant extinctions has quadrupled since the 18th century. A study published in June reveals that an average of three plant species has disappeared every year since 1900. This rate of extinction is 500 times faster than the natural expectations and twice the number of extinctions faced by mammals, birds, and amphibians. As per the report of IUCN, 38 percent of the examined species in Europe face danger from invasive species. This is followed by wood harvesting, deforestation, development of cities along with climate change, fires and land management.
In the analysis, it was found that three-quarters of the tree species in the Sorbus genus such as Mountain Ash, were assessed to be threatened and a third to be critically endangered. 22 species were unable to get assessed due to a lack of proper information. Tim Rich, taxonomist who was involved in the study said that he has been quite worried as along with saplings, big ash trees have been affected to a large extent. He found a dead ash tree every five to ten meters in the Pembrokeshire area while driving there.
The positive side is almost 80 percent of the native species of trees are identified in at least one protected area, while many are present in arboreta and botanic gardens. Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of Red List Unit of IUCN said that European trees with their diversity are an important source for food and shelter for several animals also with an important economic role. We should be taking care of our trees unless it gets too late.