Scientists have revealed that around two-fifths of the world's plants are at risk of extinction. This stark warning comes from a piece of research called the State of the World's Plants and Fungi. More than 200 scientists analysed the state of play of the world's flora in 42 countries. A top botanist, Professor Alexandre Antonelli, said: "We are living in an age of extinction. It's a very worrying picture of risk and urgent need for action. We're losing the race against time because species are disappearing faster than we can find and name them. Many of them could hold important clues for solving some of the most pressing challenges of medicine and even perhaps of the emerging and current pandemics we are seeing today."
There have been positive signs in the past few years. More than 4,000 species of plants and fungi were discovered in 2019. Among these are potential future foods that could be a lifeline to millions of people on Earth suffering from poverty and food insecurity. Professor Antonelli stressed the importance of protecting these and all plant life on Earth. He said: "We would not be able to survive without plants and fungi – all life depends on them. Every time we lose a species, we lose an opportunity for humankind." The research was released on the day of a United Nations summit aimed at addressing this issue. Leading scientists will meet and insist world leaders act against biodiversity loss.