09252020

Half of Amazon trees ‘face extinction’

Forest canopy Mato GrossoImage copyright
William Milliken-RBG Kew

Image caption

Forest canopy in Mato Grosso, Brazil

More than half of all tree species in the Amazon face extinction, warn international scientists.

According to new data, up to 57% of all Amazonian trees may already fit the criteria of being globally threatened.

If confirmed, the estimates would raise the number of threatened plant species on Earth by almost a quarter.

Forest cover in the Amazon has been shrinking for decades, but little is known about the impact on individual plant species.

The trees at risk include iconic species like the Brazil nut tree, food crops such as cacao, the source of chocolate, as well as rare trees that are almost unknown to science.

The research, published in the journal, Science Advances, compared data from almost 1,500 forest plots with maps of current and predicted forest loss to estimate how many tree species have been lost and how many are likely to disappear by the middle of the century.

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