One In five Of The world's Plants Under Threat Of Extinction

Over one-fifth of the world's plant species are endangered with extinction according to a new study compiled by the UK's Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London.

The "Sampled Red List Index for Plants" is the first time the true extent of the danger to more than 380,000 plant species worldwide has been identified, according to researchers.

The study, the Sampled Red List Index for Plants, looked at a representative sample of 7,000 species from five main groups of plants, - mosses, ferns, conifers, flowering plants such as orchids and grasses, and legumes.

It found that 22 per cent of the 4,000 assessed species were vitally endangered, endangered or vulnerable. Another 10 per cent of plants with the humble snowdrop - a non-native species which has become widely established in the UK but is losing ground in central and Eastern Europe - will be threatened without action.

Most of the vulnerable plant species grow tropical rainforest, while islands in the middle of the ocean such as Christmas Island and Bermuda also had a high proportion of at risk species.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: 'This report comes at a significant time in the lead-up to the major international biodiversity meeting in Nagoya next month.

'It is deeply worrying that a fifth of the world's plants are facing extinction because of human activity. 'Plant life is vital to our very existence, providing us with food, water, medicines and the capability to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

'We must take steps now to avoid losing some of these important species and the UK will show leadership as we look to make development towards a framework for tackling the loss of the Earth's plant and animal species.'

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