Although only a minority of plant species have a specific human use, many more play important roles in natural ecosystems and the services they provide, and rare species are more likely to have unusual traits that could be useful in the future. The major threats to plant diversity include habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation, overexploitation, invasive species, pollution, and anthropogenic climate change. Conservation of plant diversity is a massive task if viewed globally, but the combination of a well-designed and well-managed protected area system and ex situ gap-filling and back-up should work anywhere. The most urgent needs are for the completion of the global botanical inventory and an assessment of the conservation status of the 94% of plant species not yet evaluated, so that both in and ex situ conservation can be targeted efficiently. Globally, the biggest conservation gap is in the hyperdiverse lowland tropics and this is where attention needs to be focused.
Plant Diversity in a Changing World: Status, trends, and conservation needs
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