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More than half of the trees native to Europe are at risk of dying

More than half of the trees native to Europe are at risk of dying

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. 

Rhynchobatus syndey aquarium

IUCN Red List update says more than 28000 species are officially threatened

According to the Red List of Threatened Species which has been compiled by International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), more than 28,000 species all over the planet are threatened. Updated on Thursday, it estimated the risk of extinction for almost 106,000 species and identified that more than a quarter are in trouble. 

IUCN uses highly rigorous criteria to determine each species thus setting the global standard guide to extinction risk of biodiversity. In the recent update, 105,732 species were ranked from the category of least concern to critically endangered and extinct. According to this update, there are 28,338 threatened species while 873 species have been extinct since the year 1500. These numbers might seem small however only 1 percent of the flora and fauna of the planet have been assessed formally by IUCN.

An excess of 7000 species were added to the Red List which includes 501 Australian species which includes dragonflies and fish. The shortfin eel has been classified as near threatened due to poor river management, land clearing and deficiency of nutrients. Twenty Australian dragonflies were assessed which includes five species facing threat from loss of habitat and degradation. Expansion of mining and urban areas pose threats to western swiftwing which is found in Western Australia. 

The species of rhino rays which consists of wedgefishes and large guitarfishes, ranging from Australia to Eastern Atlantic are quite close to extinction. Six giant guitarfishes and nine wedgefishes out of ten are critically endangered. In the Eastern Atlantic ranges and wider Indo-Pacific regions, the rhino ray population are subjected to unregulated exploitation. Overfishing for meat and their valuable fins have led to this condition. Trading of their meat is an important part of coastal livelihood and food security in tropical nations. Due to demand for shark fin soup, the white fins of rhino rays are very valuable and often fetch nearly a thousand dollars for every kilogram. 

The clown wedgefish belonging to Indo-Malay Archipelago has been seen only once in more than 20 years when a dead specimen was photographed by a local researcher in Singapore fish market. The fishing of false shark ray belonging to Mauritania in West Africa has taken a high toll as there have been no recent sightings.

Small fishing boats have increased from 125 in 1950 to 4000 in 2005. This rise in fishing is seen in tropical nations of Indo-West Pacific, where maximum rhino rays are found. 

Effective rhino ray conservation needs a number of measures such as protection of national species, management of habitat, bycatch reduction and restrictions on international trade. The implementation of these measures needs effective enforcement and compliance. If we cannot save the rhino rays, it translates to our ineffectiveness of managing the extinction crisis. Due to inaction, there will be a loss of biodiversity and eventual collapse of ecosystems.