Plant Extinction Is A Reality Which Can Be Reversed
In Garden Media Group’s 2022 Garden Trends Report, president Katie Dubow said, “We need a renewed focus to prevent further plant extinction. There are 4,000 wild plants in the U.S. that are endangered currently.”
Many of us are familiar with the topic of animal extinctions – and could probably name a handful of animals that appear on that list globally. But few consider that plant life is also susceptible to a similar endangerment.
While some rarer plants are often more prone to extinction, environmental changes – both direct and indirect – have escalated the endangerment of many species which once thrived throughout the world.
According to the United States Forest Service, “The most common cause of plant habitat loss and subsequent plant rarity and endangerment is the conversion of native plant habitat to cities, farms, roads, and regulated-flow river systems and reservoirs. Human settlement has also changed plant habitats through fire suppression, the introduction of aggressive weeds, recreational use, and natural resource extraction.”
The continuous use of pesticides – both residentially and commercially – to rid properties of what many consider an undesirable part of their overall landscape design is yet another reason for plant extinction throughout communities globally.
Dr. Eimear Nic Lughadha, co-researcher and conservation scientist at the Royal Botanic Gardens in the U.K., says, “Millions of other species depend on plants for their survival, humans included, so knowing which plants we are losing and from where will feedback into conservation programs targeting other organisms as well.”
What’s important is understanding the how, where, and why plant extinction occurs and finding new ways to reintroduce them back into their native landscapes.
Dr. Rob Salguero-Gómez of the University of Oxford said, “We depend on plants directly for food, shade, and construction materials, and indirectly for ‘ecosystem services’ such as carbon fixation, oxygen creation, and even improvement in human mental health through enjoying green spaces.” Meaning, humanity as a whole stands to benefit from plant conservation efforts or live with the repercussions of endangerment.
Dubow says, “More partnerships will be needed to safeguard more of these unique species and conserve them in the wild. Fortunately, native plants have been in extremely high demand under consumers recently, which is a great step.”
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