Among the key findings from the fifth annual report from the U.K.’s Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) is a dire warning about vanishing plant species amid the intertwined biodiversity crisis and climate emergency.
RBG Kew’s fifth State of the World’s Plants and Fungi report lays out the current condition of the world’s plants and fungi globally.
Based on the work of 200 international researchers and covering the content of more than 25 cutting-edge scientific papers in its 11 chapters, the new report examines global drivers and patterns of biodiversity as well as critical knowledge gaps and how to address them.
Plants and fungi underpin all life on Earth, providing valuable ecosystem services that support our livelihoods and provide us with food, medicine, clothing, and raw materials. But the natural world is in a state of imbalance, driven by the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. In this year’s report, with the theme, ‘Tackling the Nature Emergency: Evidence, gaps and priorities’, scientists take an in-depth look at what we know and don’t know about the diversity of these fundamental building blocks of ecosystems and the threats they face.
The underlying scientific evidence is published in a special collection from the journals New Phytologist and Plants, People, Planet entitled ‘Global Plant Diversity and Distribution’ and in a review of global fungal diversity and conservation published by the journal Annual Review of Environment and Resources.
The publication of the report coincides with a hybrid symposium held at Kew Gardens in West London. To date, RBG Kew has published four groundbreaking State of the World’s Reports, with the 2020 issue being the first of its kind to investigate both plants and fungi together.
The new publication joins a series of alarming reports this year, from February NatureServe research that found 34% of plants species and 40% of animal species in the United States are at risk of extinction while 41% of U.S. ecosystems could collapse, to a September study that revealed dozens of genera—the next thickest branch from species on tree of life—have been lost since A.D. 1500 due to human activity.
The Kew report also comes after last December’s Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework—a historic pact to safeguard and restore nature that followed years of negotiations but which some global advocates warned is nowhere near strong enough.