Through the Global Tree Assessment, intensive research has been undertaken over the past five years to compile extinction risk information on the 58,497 tree species worldwide. We now know that 30% of tree species are threatened with extinction, and at least 142 tree species are recorded as extinct. The main threats to tree species are forest clearance and other forms of habitat loss, direct exploitation for timber and other products and the spread of invasive pests and diseases. Climate change is also having a clearly measurable impact.
This report summarises the conservation measures already in place for tree species: over two-thirds of tree species are recorded in at least one protected area and about a third of tree species are found in botanic gardens or seed banks. Nevertheless it calls for a new focus in planning and carrying out biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration, recognising the global importance of tree species. It identifies the regions where further action is needed. It provides recommendations for urgent action and calls for a new coalition to facilitate the resourcing and expertise required.
It is crucial that we use the information now available to manage, conserve and restore threatened tree species and tree diversity. This will prevent extinction of trees and the associated plants, animals and fungi that depend on them, sustain livelihoods and ensure the ecological health of the planet.