The importance of plant conservation

Plants are the backbone of life on Earth. Today, however, plant communities around the world are under threat. Scientists estimate that at least 100,000 plants are threatened with extinction–that’s more than one-third the total known species of plants on the planet! Education about the importance of plants and the need for their conservation is an important aspect of BGEN’s work.

Photo by Sarah DixonThe main threats to plants today are habitat destruction, invasive species, and overcollection. The loss of a plant species can have devastating effects on ecosystems as a whole, as other species lose their sources of food and shelter. Additionally, plants play a crucial role in stabilising soils and help prevent erosion.

While the situation is critical, efforts are underway around the globe to halt the loss of plant diversity. International treaties such as the Convention on Biological Diversity are setting goals and targets for conservation worldwide. More specifically, the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation has laid out 16 outcome-oriented targets to be achieved by 2010. The GSPC recognizes the important role that education can play in conservation programmes. Target 14 of the GSPC calls for the “importance of plant diversity and the need for its conservation incorporated into communication, educational and public-awareness programmes.”

To learn more about plant conservation projects and programmes, visit these websites:

Botanic Gardens Conservation International — www.bgci.org

Convention on Biological Diversity — www.cbd.int

PlantNetwork —  www.plantnetwork.org

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