Saving The World’s Trees
Ten Percent Of All Tree Species Now Threatened With Extinction
LISLE, IL (October 29, 2007) – As the forests go, so go the trees. Experts are delivering new warnings that deforestation, plant diseases, pests, and climate change are combining to dramatically reduce the amount and health of the world’s forests and trees. Ten percent of all tree species are now threatened with extinction, officials say.
Among the newest, as-yet-unpublished information are results from studies showing that certain maple species are joining various oaks, magnolias, conifers, and the ginkgo on the “Red List.” This document, from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), lists species that are threatened with extinction – even rating the seriousness of each species’ situation with categories such as critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable. Some red-listed species are native to the U.S.
“Plant species, including trees, are going extinct at an ever-increasing rate. Plant conservation is essential to ensure sustainable development and improved human well-being,” says Sara Oldfield, Secretary General of Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). “The 5,000 or so tree species included in the 2007 IUCN Red List represent the tip of the iceberg,” Oldfield says.
The Morton Arboretum hosts Oldfield next month for crucial discussions on how arboreta in the United States can join international efforts to protect trees. London-based BGCI is one of the lead partners in the Global Trees Campaign, a worldwide initiative to save the most threatened tree species and their habitats.
“Arboreta and botanical gardens in the U.S. have the resources and the capacity to play a much larger role in global plant conservation efforts,” says Dr. Gerard T. Donnelly, Arboretum President and CEO.
Trees provide the framework for nature in many habitats around the world, and the Global Trees Campaign focuses on trees as flagship species for conservation of trees and all of the plants and animals in the ecosystem that dependent on them.
One of the main projects of the Global Trees Campaign is focused on magnolia trees. More than half of the world’s magnolia species are threatened with extinction in their native forest habitats, according to a newly published report from the campaign.
“All flowering plants evolved from Magnolias. Losing these would be a disaster,” says Kunso Kim, Arboretum Curator of Living Collections.
Oldfield will meet with Donnelly and other Arboretum officials on November 7 to discuss ways to protect threatened trees in native habitats and in arboreta, and how to build broader awareness and support for these conservation efforts. Additionally, Oldfield will speak at the Arboretum that day on the Global Trees Campaign, detailing the latest information on what species are at risk, the significance of tree losses, and what can be done to mobilize resources to conserve trees at risk.
The stakes are high for trees and forest conservation, with direct links to global climate change and the well being of people who depend on these resources for their survival. Forests store carbon in the structure of trees and in the soil, and trees provide food, medicine, and wood for shelter, cooking, and heat. Healthy, diverse forests are more sustainable and productive, prevent flooding and soil erosion, and provide habitat for wildlife.
The Morton Arboretum is an internationally recognized 1,700-acre outdoor museum with collections of 4,057 kinds of trees, shrubs, and other plants from around the world. The Arboretum's beautiful natural landscapes, gardens, research and education programs, and year-round family activities support its mission – the planting and conservation of trees and other plants for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. Conveniently located at I-88 and Rte. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, the Arboretum is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or sunset, whichever is earlier, Central Time. The Children's Garden is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (CDT) and 9:30 to 4 p.m. (CST). Visit www.mortonarb.org or call 630-968-0074 to learn more.