The flower of the cucumber tree, the only magnolia tree native to Ontario and an endangered species in Canada. (Photo: Brenda Doherty/Can Geo Photo Club)
As many as 30 per cent of Earth’s tree species are at risk of extinction, according to a new report by Botanic Gardens Conservation International on the state of the world’s trees.
“This report is a wake-up call to everyone around the world that trees need help,” said Paul Smith, secretary general of the plant conservation charity, in a statement. The study found that about 17,500 of the nearly 60,000 known tree species on Earth are at risk of extinction, and that 142 species are now extinct in the wild. Some at-risk species have fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild. While magnolias and dipterocarps — both typically found in the rainforests of southeast Asia — are most at risk, oaks, maples and ebonies are also threatened. The main threats to trees are forest clearing and other habitat loss, timber industries and pests and disease, while climate change is also having an impact.
According to the study, Canada is home to 258 tree species of which 16, or six per cent, are threatened. Brazil leads the world’s nations with the largest number of at-risk tree species with 1,788.
Noted Smith of the report: “Every tree species matters — to the millions of other species that depend on trees, and to people all over the world.”
On thin ice