17,500 tree species on at-risk extinction list

oldest olive tree with man

World’s oldest olive trees are in Lebanon

A new report finds that 30% of the world’s trees are at risk for going extinct. Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) has published a landmark State of the World’s Trees report. Consider ancient variety of olive trees and trees that bleed like the socotra

The report is the culmination of five years of research to identify major gaps in tree conservation efforts. It is one of the first assessments of the world’s threatened trees.

Canadian species like ash, threatened by the emerald ash borer, and elm, threatened by Dutch elm disease, are among the trees catalogued. Canada is also home to the Global Conservation Consortium for Acer (Maples), which were assessed last year. Examining the globe’s near-60,000 tree species, the report reveals that 30% (17,500) of tree species are currently at risk of extinction.


Karin Kloosterman hugging a tree

That means there are twice the number of threatened tree species globally than threatened mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles combined. Over 440 tree species are right on the brink of extinction, the report reveals, meaning they have fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild.

These species are found all over the world, from the Mulanje cedar in Malawi, with only a few remaining individuals on Mulanje Mountain, to the Menai whitebeam found only in North Wales, which has only 30 trees remaining.

The report finds hope for the future, however, as conservation efforts led by the botanical community worldwide are growing. Identifying which trees are at risk and ensuring these are protected is the most effective way to prevent extinction and restore endangered species.

The report reveals that at least 64% of all tree species can be found in at least one protected area, and about 30% can be found in botanic gardens, seed banks, or other ex situ collections, but further action is needed.

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