According to a new study, almost 600 plant species have gone extinct in the last 250 years. While the number might not seem a lot at start, its almost twice the number of birds, mammals and amphibians disappeared from earth during this time.
The latest research, published in the journal Nature, Ecology & Evolution, tried to understand the impact of humans on different plant species. Interestingly, the group found that the plant species are going extinct 500 times faster than the normal rate without human intervention.
Talking about the latest findings, Aelys Humprheys, one of the researchers, said, “Most people can name a mammal or bird that has become extinct in recent centuries, but few can name an extinct plant. This study is the first time we have an overview of what plants have already become extinct, where they have disappeared from and how quickly this is happening.”
During the course of research, the scientists found that plants on islands and tropical areas are going extinct at the highest rate due to the destruction of native vegetation. Maria S. Vorontsova, notes, “To stop plant extinction, we need to record all the plants across the world — the naming of new species is a critical piece of the puzzle in the wider push to prioritize conservation of our precious natural world for generations to come. To do this, we need to support herbaria and the production of plant identification guides, we need to teach our children to see and recognize their local plants and, most importantly, we need botanists for years to come.”
While the number might be depressing, the researchers also discovered over 400 plant species that were previously thought to have gone extinct. However, over 90 percent of these plants are considered to be “high extinction risk” at the moment.