A conservation group says the number of endangered tree species is double the number of endangered mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles combined.
Nearly a third of the world’s tree species are threatened with extinction, while hundreds are on the verge of wiping out, according to a new report.
The landmark to study, published Wednesday by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), said some 17,500 tree species – or 30% of the total – are threatened with extinction, while 440 species have less than 50 specimens in the wild.
Overall, the number of endangered tree species is double the number of endangered mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles combined, according to the report.
“This report is a wake-up call to everyone around the world that trees need help,” BGCI General Secretary Paul Smith said in a statement.
Among the most vulnerable trees are species such as magnolias and dipterocarps, which are commonly found in the rainforests of Southeast Asia. Oaks, maples and ebony are also endangered, according to the report.
Trees help support the natural ecosystem and are considered essential in combating global warming and climate change. The extinction of one tree species could result in the loss of many more.
“Every tree species matters – to the millions of other species that depend on trees and to people around the world,” Smith added.
According to the report, thousands of tree varieties in the top six countries of the world for tree species diversity are threatened with extinction. The greatest number are found in Brazil, where 1,788 species are at risk.
The other five countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Colombia and Venezuela.
The top three threats facing tree species are crop production, forestry and animal husbandry, according to the report, while climate change and extreme weather are emerging threats.
At least 180 tree species are directly threatened by rising seas and inclement weather, according to the report, especially island species such as magnolias in the Caribbean.
Although highly diverse countries see the greatest number of endangered varieties, island tree species are more proportionately threatened.
“This is of particular concern as many islands have tree species that cannot be found anywhere else,” the report adds.