1 in 5 plants faces extinction

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Washington, Sept 29 (ANI): A new study has revealed that the world's plants are as threatened as mammals, with one in five of the world's plant species threatened with extinction.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew together with the Natural History Museum, London and the International Union conducted a global analysis of extinction risk for the world's plants for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The study is a major baseline for plant conservation and is the first time that the true extent of the threat to the world's estimated 380,000 plant species is known.

Scientists carried out the Sampled Red List Index assessments on a representative sample of the world's plants, in response to the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity and the 2010 Biodiversity Target.

"This study confirms what we already suspected, that plants are under threat and the main cause is human induced habitat loss," said Professor Stephen Hopper, Director Royal Botanic Gardens.

7,000 plant species drawn from the five major groups of plants were included in the study.

According to the study, of almost 4,000 species that have been carefully assessed, over one fifth (22%) are classed as Threatened.

Plants are more threatened than birds, as threatened as mammals and less threatened than amphibians or corals.

Gymnosperms (the plant group including conifers and cycads) are the most threatened group.

The most threatened habitat is tropical rain forest.

The most threatening process is man-induced habitat loss, mostly the conversion of natural habitats for agriculture or livestock use.

The results of the Sampled Red List Index for Plants will be launched at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew at a press call on 28 September 2010 at 10am. (ANI)

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