Taking action to reverse the trend...
Results from Phase I marks the starting point for the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants. It provides the baseline against which future changes can be tracked - and it shows clearly that urgent action is needed if we are to avoid losing 1 in 5 of our plant species.
We now have a snapshot of the current status of plant diversity, but these species will need to be regularly reassessed if we are to truly understand the changing status of the world’s plants, and indeed global biodiversity overall.
Phase II of the IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants aims to mobilise an extensive global network of botanists, academics and conservationists to establish an international monitoring scheme. Species will be assessed in the field as part of ongoing monitoring efforts so threats to plant survival can be understood and documented, as well as the overall trend in the status of plants over time. Targeted fieldwork will be essential to update our information, especially for those plants whose status is declining rapidly as their environment is changing.
Where do we go from here?
The world map (right) combines data gathered during Phase I, highlighting levels of threat to plants in some of the tropical areas where plant diversity is greatest and the area we will target for Phase II of the project. For the Convention on Biological Diversity, as part of the ‘Aichi’ Biodiversity Targets of 2020, we aim to reassess this sample of plant species as part of an ongoing global monitoring effort, so threats and trends can be understood.
Species which have undergone a change in the wild, becoming more/less threatened, can be distinguished from those whose category has changed simply because our knowledge and understanding of the threats affecting them is now better. Only genuine changes in status will drive the Index.
Taking action to reverse the trend
One in five plants are already under threat from human activities, even before the impacts of climate change are taken into account. The urgency of the situation cannot be overstated.
The IUCN Sampled Red List Index for Plants provides a global picture of plant conservation status, but most of the positive actions required to reverse the current rate of biodiversity loss must take place at local, national or regional scales. We need to redouble our efforts at all levels, recruiting people and resources to help safeguard the future for the world’s plants, and for ourselves, before it is too late.
A global response to the loss of biodiversity
Kew and the Natural History Museum, London are already working with many individuals and partner organizations worldwide taking positive action to conserve and restore plant diversity.
Kew and the Natural History Museum are also developing methods for using biodiversity data and are training students and partners in projects with practical conservation outcomes for the UK, the UK Overseas Territories and many developing countries.
- Kew is home to the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, the world’s most ambitious plant conservation project that already stores seeds of 10% of all plant species and is aiming to meet a target of 25% by 2020.
- The Natural History Museum and the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio) are producing the first complete plant inventory for one of the world’s top hotspots of plant diversity in Costa Rica.
- Kew is working with local people to restore habitats and develop sustainable livelihoods, ensuring a brighter future for the plants and the people who depend on them.
- Kew is celebrating a successful collaboration with Conservation International in the Itremo Massif Protected Area Project in Madagascar, helping conserve its unique and highly threatened flora.
- The Natural History Museum is involving a wide cross-section of society in recording urban tree diversity across the UK.
- RSPB is helping to reduce the impact of invasive species in the South Atlantic Islands with support from Kew scientists.
- The Natural History Museum has recently opened the new Darwin Centre, allowing visitors unprecedented access to the behind-the-scenes activities of a biodiversity research institute.
- Kew is collaborating with Fauna and Flora International and the Cristalino Ecological Foundation in Brazil to help secure the 184,000 hectare Cristalino State Park and its surroundings – one of the highest priority conservation areas in the Brazilian Amazon.
- The Natural History Museum is home to the Angela Marmont Centre, a dedicated resource for public involvement with the biodiversity of the British Isles.
- Kew’s Great Plant Hunt is an innovative adventure that inspires primary school children to value plants.
We need to redouble our efforts at all these levels and recruit more people and resources to take action for plants, before it is too late. The world cannot afford to lose 1 in 5 of its plant species; we must all work together to conserve what we have.
Donate now - Adopt a seed, save a species
We have successfully banked 10% of the world's wild plant species and we have set our sights on saving 25% by 2020.
Without plants there could be no life on earth, and yet every day another four plant species face extinction. Too often when we hear these kind of statistics there is little that we can do as individuals, but thanks to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership and the Adopt a Seed, Save a Species campaign there is something that you can do to ensure the survival of a plant species.
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