One of the biggest factors threatening plant species is the destruction of habitats, including for farming, such as palm oil production (pictured) and cattle ranching [Image: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images].

One of the biggest factors threatening plant species is the destruction of habitats, including for farming, such as palm oil production (pictured) and cattle ranching [Image: Marco Longari/AFP/Getty Images].

You may not think this is a political matter, but it is.

During the recent election campaign, This Writer met the local Green candidate and found we had much in common. I’m not about to defect from Labour but I understand the need for sustainability.

History shows us that plant and animal species die out and are replaced. It also shows us that the balance of nature changes when this happens. That’s why it is vitally important for human beings to understand the consequences of changes to the system that allows us to live.

I am not concerned about plant species invading new territories and causing damage – that’s nature.

What’s more worrying is the threat posed to plant species by industry. Here in the UK, the Conservative Government is taking the brakes off of industrial exploitation of the environment. What if all countries do the same?

The planet’s eco-system will survive and evolve – but do you seriously believe human beings will remain a part of it if we threaten its stability?

One in five of the world’s plant species is threatened with extinction, according to the first global assessment of flora, putting supplies of food and medicines at risk.

But the report also found that 2,000 new species of plant are discovered every year, raising hopes of new sources of food that are resilient to disease and climate change. New finds in 2015 included a giant insect-eating plant first spotted on Facebook and a 100-tonne tree hidden in an African forest.

The State of the World’s Plants report, by experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, reveals that there are currently 390,000 species of known plants, with more than 30,000 used by people. However, more than 5,000 species have invaded foreign countries and are causing billions of dollars of damage every year.

“Plants are absolutely fundamental to humankind,” said Prof Kathy Willis, director of science at Kew, who led the new report. “Plants provide us with everything – food, fuel, medicines, timber and they are incredibly important for our climate regulation. Without plants we would not be here. We are facing some devastating realities if we do not take stock and re-examine our priorities and efforts.”

Source: One in five of world’s plant species at risk of extinction | Environment | The Guardian

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