According to a study published on Science Advances Magazine, the third of African flora species are threatened with extinction. Researchers are worried that another 30% of African land plants will soon be added to the red list of endangered species. Some areas can boast enough plant diversity. In some other areas, flora is very poor.

Scientists checked over 22,000 different kinds of plants – creepers, herbs, shrubs, and trees – and found that the trees are slightly in better condition than herbs.

The greatest threats are faced by flora in the tropical zone, where there is the greatest diversity of plants. These are industrial activities such as logging, mining, agriculture and large plantations. Finally, it is expected that these ongoing negative impacts on biodiversity will be further complicated by climate change by the end of this century.

Two Approaches

According to criteria of the UICN Red List, more than one fifth (4879 or 22.1%) of these species were assessed as Likely Threatened or Potentially Threatened.

The complementary procedure in the form of Preliminary Automated Conservation Assessments (PACA) yielded similar results: Out of 5023 species, that is 22.8% of these species were assessed as Likely Threatened or Potentially Threatened.

Flora State in African Regions

Four areas are highlighted by a high proportion of up to 40% of potentially endangered species. They are Ethiopia, West Africa, Central Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was found that more than 65% of species in tropical rainforests of West Africa and parts of the Ethiopian Highlands were endangered.

In total, 70.1% of the species were classified in one of the endangered (Likely Threatened or Potentially Threatened) or rare species categories. 33% of the total number of plants included in the study is at risk of extinction.

Among the top 10 countries with the highest share of endangered species are eight countries from West Africa along with Ethiopia and Uganda. High concentrations of rare species are found mainly in several regions of Tanzania and along the Cameroonian volcanic line.

Researchers’ Statement

The scientists who participated in the study have said that “Tropical biodiversity conservation is an urgent challenge when facing the growing needs of countries. Despite their vital importance for terrestrial ecosystems, most tropical plant species lack an assessment of extinction risk, which limits our ability to identify conservation priorities.”

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