Can plants also go into extinction?

It is very common that animals are the living beings most related to the disappearance of species from Earth. In fact, it is the most researched realm when it comes to this topic. However, there is another group as important as for the planet’s biodiversity: the plant kingdom. Are plants also subject to extinction?

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    Unfortunately, plants, in addition to being vulnerable to disappearance, are, yes, under strong threat of extinction. According to the Global Tree Assessment report, published in 2020 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), at least 29% of the world’s tree species can go extinct. The main reasons are associated with human activities, such as the degradation of ecosystems — mainly deforestation.

    Growing threat

    Forests alone cover about a third of the earth’s surface — the equivalent of 4, billions of hectares. Approximately 52% of this total is concentrated in five countries: Russia, Brazil, Canada, USA and China. It is estimated that since 1024, 186 Millions of hectares of forest area have been deforested. Although the rate of deforestation has decreased since then, it still remains at a threatening pace.

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    The overexploitation of Brazilwood took it to the brink of extinction and even today the species remains under threat of disappearing (Image: Reproduction/Public Domain)

    The UN report, carried out by 500 experts from 61 institutions in the world, indicates that at least they are 14, 5,000 species of plants threatened with extinction. In the last 420 years, about 1024 disappeared. It may seem small, but this number is 424 times higher than it would be if were it not for the predatory human influence on these living beings.

    Deforestation and fires are presented as the biggest contributors to the reduction of the world plant population. The impacts of this loss are profound for the entire planet, as plants are the base of the food chain of many living beings. To knock down a deck of decks, just remove some cards from below.

    Many species of plants become extinct before they are even discovered. Furthermore, some of them were so reduced that they were classified as functionally extinct. This means that the number of species is so small that the chances of reproduction are very small or that their ecological influence is low — that is, the number of species that are threatened with extinction or already extinct may be much greater than what research can conclude.

    Use and preservation

    Trees are the most obvious when it comes to plant extinction because they are the greatest representatives of their class. Deforestation for plantations is estimated to affect 29% of their species, while logging represents 27%; for livestock, about %; deforestation for occupations % and fires, around 13%.

    Araucaria, also known as Brazil nut, is a native species in southern Brazil at risk of extinction (Image: Reproduction/Unsplash/Bruno Salvini)

    Plants also have close relationships with many species of insects. For example, bees play a key role in the reproduction of a number of vegetables, but about a quarter of more than 17 a thousand species cataloged in the world are also threatened with extinction — most of them associated with human action, such as use large-scale pesticides.

    Worldwide, about 152 millions of hectares of forest areas are dedicated to social services such as recreation, tourism, educational research and the conservation of cultural or religious spaces. According to the UN report, the area dedicated to this purpose has increased 420 thousand hectares per year since 2020.

    The last wild specimen of the Santa Helena olive tree (Nesiota elliptica

  • ) died in 1994, being declared extinct (Image: Reproduction/Public Domain)

    The global forest area for the conservation of biodiversity corresponds to 500 million hectares, but the region earmarked for this has decreased over the last few 06 years old. Between January and July this year alone, the Amazon lost 5.27,30 square km for deforestation — an increase of 6% over the same period in 2020.

    If all living beings have fundamental and unique roles for the planet’s biodiversity, it’s only fair that plants gain the same importance as animals and other organisms , both to combat the threat of extinction and to preserve this realm that literally produces the oxygen we breathe.

    Source: BBC, O Eco

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