Scientists Studying Earth’s Trees Issue a Stark Warning to Humanity

From soaring coastal redwoods to dinosaur-era Wollemi pines and firs that make the perfect Christmas trees, even our most revered woody plants are in an awful lot of trouble.

But it turns out that losing some species won’t just endanger local forests; it will threaten entire ecosystems, says a new study.

Last year, a global assessment titled State of the World’s Trees found a shocking one-third of all tree species are currently teetering on the edge of existence.

This amounts to about 17,500 unique tree species that are endangered.

That’s more than double the number of all threatened tetrapods (mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles).

Some trees are so rare that only a single known individual remains, like the lonesome palm in Mauritius, Hyophorbe amaricaulis.

In a new paper, the same team of researchers behind the State of the World’s Trees reports issues a “warning to humanity” about the consequences of these losses, backed by 45 other scientists from 20 different countries.

Conservation biologist Malin Rivers from Botanic Gardens Conservation International and colleagues outline the many impacts these losses will have on our economies, livelihoods, and food.

Most of our fruit comes from trees, as do many nuts and medicines, with non-timber products amounting to about US$88 billion worth of trade.

In the developing world, 880 million people rely on firewood for fuel, and 1.6 billion people live within 5 kilometers (3 miles) of a forest, relying on them for food and income.

All up, trees contribute about US$1.3 trillion annually to the global economy, yet…

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