Trees play vital roles in many of the world’s ecosystems while providing many benefits to people. Tree extinctions are therefore a serious threat to us all.

Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) published a landmark State of the World’s Trees report in 2021. The report, compiling work led by the Global Tree Assessment (GTA), was the culmination of five years of research to identify major gaps in tree conservation efforts. It was one of the first assessments of the world’s threatened trees. Established in 1987 Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) is the world’s largest plant conservation network, comprising more than 650 botanical institutions in over 100 countries. Established in 1987

Evidence highlighted in the report indicates that a third of tree species are threatened with extinction, representing a tree extinction crisis. Scientists demonstrate how tree species extinction will lead to the loss of many other plants and animals and significantly alter the world’s ecosystems. They show how tree extinction will negatively affect billions of people through loss of livelihoods and benefits. The paper highlights a series of urgent actions needed to avert an ecological, cultural and socio-economic catastrophe caused by widespread extinction of tree species.

Their new paper presented as a warning to humanity aims to raise awareness of the tree extinctions crisis, which is a major environmental issue that requires urgent global attention. It aims to highlight why it matters that so many tree species are going extinct.

You can read or download a copy of the “Scientists’ warning to humanity on tree extinctions” here >>

Exceptional Ecological Importance Threatened By Tree Extinctions

Trees are of exceptional ecological importance, playing a major functional role in the world’s ecosystems, while also supporting many other plants, animals and fungi. Many tree species are also of direct value to people, providing a wide range of socio-economic benefits. Loss of tree diversity could lead to abrupt declines in biodiversity, ecosystem functions and services and ultimately ecosystem collapse. The paper gives an overview of the current knowledge regarding the number of tree species that are threatened with extinction, and the threats that affect them, based on results of the Global Tree Assessment. This evidence suggests that a third of the world’s tree species are currently threatened with extinction, which represents a major ecological crisis. The authors examine the potential implications of tree extinctions, in terms of the functioning of the biosphere and impacts on human well-being.

Large-scale extinction of tree species will lead to major biodiversity losses in other species groups and substantially alter the cycling of carbon, water and nutrients in the world’s ecosystems. Tree extinction will also undermine the livelihoods of the billions of people who currently depend on trees and the benefits they provide.

Warning To Humanity

The concept of a ‘World Scientists Warning to Humanity’ dates back to 1992, when more than 1700 scientists, including most living Nobel laureates, called on humankind to halt environmental destruction and make fundamental changes to the relationship between humans and the natural world, in order to avoid ‘vast human misery’