Researchers at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew have released their first assessment of the world’s plant species. According to the report, there are 390,900 types of plants known to science, and about 2,000 new species are being discovered every year. However, botanists warned that 21% of the world’s plant species were at risk of extinction due to habitat loss, climate change, invasive species, and urbanization.
A new plant species discovered in Brazil
The report titled State of the World’s Plants was compiled by 80 scientists after searching through existing databases. They found a lot of overlapping within these databases. Some plants were given different names at different times by different botanists. The RBG said it would now carry out global assessments every year to keep track of how plants are changing over time.
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One of the new plants discovered last year was a 5-feet tall insect-eating plant called Drosera magnifica in Brazil. Other discoveries included five new species of onion and 90 different species of Begonia. Prof Kathy Willis, the director of science at RBG, warned that many parts of the world were witnessing alarming changes to make way for cities and farms.
In some areas, rise in CO2 good for plants
The report did not include plants like algae, liverworts, mosses, and hornworts. It is important to know the number of plant types on our planet, and their relationship between the groups. Willis said plants are “absolutely fundamental to our well-being.” They provide us with medicines, food, and fuel, and even help us control climate. Habitat changes, loss of mangroves, pests, and diseases are having a huge impact on a large number of plant species.
Scientists added that more than 10% of the area covered with vegetation is extremely sensitive to climate change. Prof Willis said that, in some areas, the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide has been good for plants. That’s why we see some parts of Savannah getting shrubbier and the Arctic getting greener. However, the climate change also has an indirect impact on plants. For instance, changes in terms of pollinators could have serious consequences on plants.