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Anne Blach-Overgaard

A third of the tropical African flora is potentially threatened with extinction

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  • T. Stévart, Missouri Botanical Garden, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Botanic Garden Meise
  • ,
  • G. Dauby, Universite de Montpellier, Université Libre de Bruxelles, FRB-CESAB
  • ,
  • P. Lowry, Missouri Botanical Garden
  • ,
  • A. Blach-Overgaard
  • V. Droissart, Universite de Montpellier
  • ,
  • D. J. Harris, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
  • ,
  • A. B. Mackinder, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • ,
  • G. E. Schatz, Missouri Botanical Garden
  • ,
  • B. Sonké, University of Yaoundé I
  • ,
  • M. S.M. Sosef, Botanic Garden Meise
  • ,
  • J. C. Svenning
  • J. Wieringa, Naturalis Biodiversity Centre
  • ,
  • T. L.P. Couvreur, Universite de Montpellier

Preserving tropical biodiversity is an urgent challenge when faced with the growing needs of countries. Despite their crucial importance for terrestrial ecosystems, most tropical plant species lack extinction risk assessments, limiting our ability to identify conservation priorities. Using a novel approach aligned with IUCN Red List criteria, we conducted a continental-scale preliminary conservation assessment of 22,036 vascular plant species in tropical Africa. Our results underline the high level of extinction risk of the tropical African flora. Thirty-three percent of the species are potentially threatened with extinction, and another third of species are likely rare, potentially becoming threatened in the near future. Four regions are highlighted with a high proportion (>40%) of potentially threatened species: Ethiopia, West Africa, central Tanzania, and southern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Our approach represents a first step toward data-driven conservation assessments applicable at continental scales providing crucial information for sustainable economic development prioritization.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaax9444
JournalScience Advances
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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