Addressing Biodiversity Loss
The latest estimates suggest that ⅖ of the world’s plans are at risk of extinction. More than 200 scientists in 42 countries took part in the research. The report was released on the day of a United Nations summit, which will press for action from the world leaders to address biodiversity loss.
Species are disappearing faster than scientists can find and name them. The main issue here is that many of those undiscovered plants that are doomed to extinction may hold important clues for solving some of the most pressing challenges of medicine and perhaps the emerging and current pandemics we are seeing these days.
A Lost Potential for Future Crops Due to Extinction
There are more than 7,000 known edible plants that hold potential for future crops. However, only a handful are used to feed a growing world population. Also, there are over 2,500 plants that could provide energy for millions worldwide. However, only six crops — palm oil, corn, sugarcane, rapeseed, and wheat generate the vast majority of biofuels.
39.4% of vascular plants are estimated to be threatened with extinction, compared with 21% in 2016. The scientists also say that the increased estimates are partly down to more sophisticated and accurate conversion assessments.
723 plants used for medicine are also at risk of extinction, with over-harvesting becoming a problem in some parts of the world. Exactly 1,942 plants and 1,886 fungi were named as new to science in 2019, including species that might be valuable as foods, drinks, medicines, or fibers. It would be such a shame if we lost those before we could even try them.