American conservationist John C. Phillips first brought up the idea of compiling a list of the world's threatened species in 1933. Through his efforts, two works on the subjects were published: Extinct and Vanishing Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, by Glover Allen (1942) and Extinct and Vanishing Mammals of the Old World, by Francis Harper (1945). These works were the precursors to the Red List put out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) today. In the 1950s, the IUCN started cataloging its list of threatened species using a card index system. As the list grew, so did the sophistication of its listing system. In 2000, the IUCN made its Red List accessible via the world wide web.
10. Mexico (382 threatened plant species)
Mexico has made great strides as of late in protecting its 382 threatened plant species. However, continued deforestation, human development, and climate change all continue to contribute to the problem. Newer threats include aquaculture, quarrying, and residential commercial development, each of which encroach on the Mexican native plants' natural habitats. Protecting plant species in Mexico is important, as many of those with the smallest, most vulnerable populations are endemic to the country. That said, a failure to do so would lead to these plants' extinctions in the future. Certain Cacti are among the threatened species in the Baja California peninsula of Mexico. Their seeds and live specimens are sold illegally to collectors and horticultural societies. Other plant species that need protection in Mexico are numerous orchids, mushrooms, trees, shrubs, and flowering plants.
9. India (385 threatened plant species)
India has also taken steps toward resolving the dilemma with its 385 threatened plant species. Among the threatened Indian vegetation are Talipot palms, shrubs, the Malabar mahogany, the red sandalwood, and malabarica trees. Forest products and forest land demands in the past have contributed to the problem for some time now. Plant species decline in population due to many factors, such as commercial harvesting, low rates of reproduction, agriculture, and the draining of wetlands to be used as paddy fields. Studies have been made on many of India's forests and their remaining vegetation (and their possible restoration of numbers) in order to facilitate the success of future conservation efforts.
8. Indonesia (426 threatened plant species)
Indonesia has its own dilemma with its 426 threatened plant species. Overexploitation of forest resources, biological factors, and habitat loss each partially explain the problem of the abundance of threatened plant species in the country.. Among the plants concerned, most belong to such groups as palms, shrubs, other trees, and orchid species. The government has conducted a study on its threatened plants to further improve their future conservation efforts. The study identified several factors that influence the threats, such as specific habitats conditions, agricultural development, small plant population sizes, restricted ranges, and the encroachment of perennial crop plantations.
7. Cameroon (490 threatened plant species)
Cameroon has its share of conservation challenges, as evidenced by its 490 threatened plant species. The IUCN updated its list in 2015 there, with most of Cameroon's threatened plants being in the vascular plants category. Some of these plants belong to tree species, shrubs, and flowering species. Deforestation in Cameroon leads to threatened plant species that, if not taken care of by the government, would ultimately kill many of the endemic plant species off of the face of the earth forever. Plant loss is also one factor that creates climate change, bringing even more problems to humans and nature alike, as climatic shifts create erratic floods and droughts. The implemented economic strategy for its farmers has brought on problems for its ecosystem instead, with herbicides and fertilizers destroying plant species.
6. Brazil (516 threatened plant species)
Brazil makes it onto the Red List with about 516 threatened plant species. The country has large scale agriculture which has affected its natural plant reserves and forests. Dam construction and cattle farming are also affecting Brazilian conservation efforts. As a result, many of its plant species are now on the IUCN's list. Among its threatened plants are some of its many endemic plants, including orchids, bromeliads, philodendrons, and crotons. The government has taken a stand towards protecting its economic gains by supporting large scale mining and logging. This stance has often contributed to a simultaneous failure in the area of nature conservation.
5. Madagascar (540 threatened plant species)
Madagascar has about 540 threatened plant species on the Red List today. The country has rain forests, dry forests, deserts, and plateaus alike. Its ecosystem includes 250 islands and 3,000 miles of shoreline. However, deforestation, and charcoal and firewood production, contribute to the plant species decline problem still yet. Rosewood trees, mangrove plants, and the Baobob tree are just some examples of the threatened plant species in Madagascar.
4. China (568 threatened plant species)
China makes it to the Red List with a recorded 568 threatened plant species. The list was last updated in 2015. Resource exploitation and deforestation are two factors that contribute most to the problem. Research has also been done regarding the reintroduction of rare and endangered plants back into their respective natural habitats. Numerous nature reserves for these plants had been created in 1956. Other, more recent efforts have included the collection of seeds and in-vitro conservation of plant organs and tissues. Examples of threatened Chinese plant species are herbs, shrubs, vascular, and lower plants.
3. Tanzania (602 threatened plant species)
Tanzania also frequently made it onto the Red List of the IUCN with its 602 threatened plant species. The list was compiled in 2015, with many forest plant species not included due to lack of data, although medicinal plants and vascular plants are on the list of the IUCN. The risk of losing endemic plants is also very real. Fortunately there has been a move towards conservation and restoration efforts that should bring these to the entire span of its elevational forest habitats.
2. Malaysia (721 threatened plant species)
Malaysia has been included in the Red List with a total of 721 threatened plant species found in its forests and mountains today. Another 78 endemic species of plants are threatened in Malaysia, as are many of its native vascular plants. The majority of the threatened plants there are found in the forests, and therefore logging contributes greatly to the problem. Economic profits are attractive incentives that push the Sarawak people to continue their logging activities. Mangrove and inland swamp flora also need protection. Orchids and ferns are but two examples of the hundreds of threatened plant species in Malaysia.
1. Ecuador (1,848 threatened plant species)
Ecuador has a total of 1,848 threatened plant species in its forests and mountains. Its Amazon and coastal forests are subjected to erosion and deforestation that affect their flora's biodiversity. The same can be said of its fascinating Galápagos Islands. Its Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy started a reforestation program in the early 1980s, but the work was not avidly continued. Another factor that contributes to the problem are the natives who have long sold wild plants, such as orchids and vanilla vines, to support their livelihoods. The American and Asian plant collectors who have the resources to pay for exotic, often threatened, Ecuadorian plants also help to deplete the variety of plant species found in Ecuador.
Which Country Has the Most Threatened Plant Species?
Ecuador has 1,848 threatened plant species, more than anywhere else in the world.
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