This water lily does not grow any more in its native Rwanda.It’s a victim of expanding population, clearing the land for agriculture and urban development.The same thing is happening in many other parts of the world.
“There’s a lot of mouths to feed in the world now and that’s growing, and we need the land,so basically the lands, the natural habitat is being converted so that we can have soya plantations, crops, livestock,and as a result, that’s really causing species to lose their habitat.”
According to a report prepared by the Royal Botanic Gardens in London, out of 391,000 plants known to science, more than 80,000 are in danger of extinction.Along with agriculture and urbanization, the threat comes from logging and gathering of plants, as well as climate change.Scientists say governments should do more to create protected areas.
“The real thing we need to be doing is identifying which are the important areas to conserve because of the incredible plant diversity they contain and which areas we should be developing.”
Plant diversity is so great that each year, scientists identify about 2,000 new plants. This 1.5 meter insect-eating sundew from Brazil was discovered last year on Facebook by a specialist who was viewing photographs posted by an orchid enthusiast.Carnivorous plants have a huge following on the Internet, but other plants... not so much. And that, scientists say, also creates problems.Botany is simply not a popular subject in schools.
“It’s very rarely taught as ‘this is a really important discipline because plants underpin all of our aspects of our human wellbeing,’ from climate regulation, through to food and fiber and fuels.”
Botanists working on collecting and logging the data say for now, the task is so daunting that it is practically impossible to document all the plants that are becoming extinct.