Monday, October 4, 2010

Turning Point

Following on from the previous post about cut backs to funding for Seed Banks in Australia which was discussed at the recent 2010 Crawford Conference in Canberra is this post  you can read an overview of one of the Conference's  Key speakers - Stephen D. Hopper, Head of Kew Gardens in the UK. Below are several key points from the powerpoint presentation he gave at the conference.

Plant diversity at the turning 
Stephen D. Hopper 
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey UK 

Unprecedented importance of plant diversity, and yet …? 
ABC of first aid. Plant diversity helps us: 
- breathe 
- seek shelter and maintain health 
- consume water and food 
- manipulate our habitat for positive individual and social benefit by 
clearing space, creating shelter, growing and gardening plants, 
inventing culture 
- mitigate and adapt to global change 

And yet we are ambivalent – we create and destroy, socialise and 
alienate, love and hate, celebrate and mourn, revere and denigrate, 
imagine and turn off, explore and fear the unknown, tell the truth and 
lie, collaborate and cheat, help and ignore, hypothesize but do not 
seek evidence, resist change and rise to challenge

An extinction crisis is looming, 
fuelled by land use conflict 
12 crops provide 80% of 
the plant food consumed 
Yet 30,000 species are 
known to be edible 
We continue to bulldoze 
and burn marginal lands 
to grow mainstream 
crops, destroying the 
plant diversity that may 
be part of our salvation in 
a rapidly changing world 

Plant diversity underpins human 
lives and livelihoods, from 
the air we breathe to sheer 
wonderment –yet the world 
continues to destroy wild 
plants at an alarming rate. 
We are at a turning point for plant 
diversity, of unprecedented 
importance to people in a 
rapidly changing world. 
We face a steep learning curve. 
Targeted plant diversity science, 
in botanic gardens and 
elsewhere, offers solutions to 
global problems and an 
important message of hope. 
We can feed the world through 
sustainable use of 
biodiversity –but will we?

Interactive map with hot spots

Use Kew's interactive map to explore the state of the world's plant life and find out more about plants at risk.
  • See an overview of the state of plant life world wide.
  • Find out more about where plants are at risk.
  • See global hotspots where plant life is unique to specific regions.
  • See the level of confidence we have in the data for each country.

A selection of plant species discovered by Kew in 2009

What are the threats?

Deforestation in Madagascar Photo A. McRobb

Deforestation in Madagascar, conversion of forest to rice - Photo A. McRobb
22% of plant species already face the threat of extinction. Our research also tells us that it is the impact of human actions and activity that poses the greatest threat to plant diversity today. How do we know that plants are threatened?
Use our chart and take a closer look at the data collected as part of this research. Find out just how great a threat human-induced activities are to the future of plant life.

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