'Frightening' number of plant extinctions found READ MORE

Deforestation in Brazil

At least 571 plant species, from the Chile sandalwood to the St. Helena olive, have gone extinct in the wild over the past 250 years, according to a new study that has biodiversity experts anxious about what the findings suggest for the future of life on Earth.

Many have been eradicated through man-made habitat loss, such as the Hieracium Hethlandiae, a small yellow flower.

The researchers, from the UK's Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Sweden's Stockholm University, say the highest extinction rates are seen on islands, in the tropics and in places with a Mediterranean climate.

Compiling data from the literature, global databases, and museum specimens, Vorontsova and her colleagues surveyed more than 330,000 species to document the losses.

A United Nations report from May warns that more than a 1 million animal and plant species are under threat of becoming extinct. "[The] results are enormously significant".

New research suggests that even by conservative efforts, the number of plants that have gone extinct in the last three centuries is 500 times higher than before the industrial revolution, and the rate of extinction is skyrocketing.

Others include the Chile sandalwood, a tree that grew on the Juan Fernandez Islands between Chile and Easter island and was heavily exploited for its scent.

Nearly 600 plant species have been lost from the wild in the last 250 years, according to a comprehensive new study.

The researchers assume these numbers underestimate the simply ranges of ongoing plant extinction.

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"This study is the first time we have an overview of what plants have already become extinct, where they have disappeared from and how quickly this is happening", Humphreys said.

Another positive takeaway from the study was rediscovery: the researchers found that 430 species previously believed extinct are actually still around.

It takes many years to be sure a plant has been wiped out, meaning there are many species awaiting formal confirmation.

Human activity served as the driving factor for many of these extinctions, Vorontsova tells Carrington.

"They provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world's ecosystems - so plant extinction is bad news for all species". "This new understanding of plant extinction will help us predict (and try to predict) future extinctions of plants, as well as other organisms".

Researchers say their analysis of all documented plant extinctions in the world shows what lessons can be learned to stop future extinctions.

"Tens of millions of different species depend on vegetation for their survival, folks included, so radiant which vegetation we are losing and from where, will feed abet into conservation programmes focusing on different organisms besides", she defined. However, it should be noted that 90 percent of these rediscovered plants have a high extinction risk. That said, the more plant species that go extinct, the greater the chance of insect and animal species going extinct - so it's important to do everything we can to conserve every plant species on Earth.

Commenting on the research, Dr Rob Salguero-Gómez, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, said: 'Plants underpin and provide key resources to entire ecosystems worldwide.

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