Scientists issue 'warning to humanity' over trees facing extinction

Beech trees seen from the forest floor. This image was taken in a forest named Bøkeskogen in Larvik city, Norway.
A third of the world's tree species face extinction. (Getty)

Scientists who revealed that a third of the world’s tree species are facing extinction have issued a 'warning to humanity' over the issue.

A new report shows that the extinction threat facing 17,510 of the world’s tree species will have important knock-on effects – and could threaten millions of jobs.

Half of the world’s known animal and plant species rely on trees for their habitat, while forests provide 50% of the world’s carbon storage and 75% of the world’s accessible freshwater.

Conservation biologist Malin Rivers, from Botanic Gardens Conservation International told Nature World News: "Habitat loss is frequently tree loss, it is at the root of that when we look at extinction concerns for animals or birds.

"There is no way we can take care of all the other creatures there if we don't take care of the trees."

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In another interview with The Guardian, he said: "We're showing that diverse forests store more carbon than monocultures.

"That's true for many ecological functions, not just carbon capture, but providing habitat to animals, soil stabilisation, resilience to pests and diseases, resilience to storms and adverse weather. By losing tree diversity, we'll also lose diversity in all organisms – birds, animals, fungi, microorganisms, insects."

Many tree species are also of direct value to people, the researchers said, providing a range of socio-economic benefits, such as contributing to food security and meeting energy, health, housing, income and nutritional needs.

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The world’s forests contribute approximately $1.3 trillion to the global economy.

Timbers are the highest valued commodity, but non-timber products, such as fruit, nuts, and medicine contribute $88 billion in global trade, and provide 20-25% of household income in developing countries.

Over 100 tree species are already extinct in the wild, and with billions of trees being destroyed each year, a third of species face extinction.

The paper puts forward seven urgent actions for policymakers and experts to avert the ecological, cultural and socio-economic catastrophe caused by widespread extinction of tree species.

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