Thousands of tree species are going into extinction. What will be the consequences?


Some scientists believe that the sixth mass extinction has already begun. Many people are already tired of reading about the terrible consequences of global warming, the abundance of plastic waste and other factors that are gradually causing the death of plants, animals and even people. Yes, all these warnings are pretty boring, because basically they sound the same. But recently, scientists have shared something new – it turns out that the extinction of entire species of animals is not something to worry about in the first place. The world is experiencing mass extinction of trees, and this factor is the root of most problems. Let’s take a quick look at why trees are disappearing and how it will affect our future.

The consequences of cutting down trees

There are fewer trees on planet Earth – this is a fact. Their disappearance is due to a number of factors that have arisen as a result of human activities. Trees suffer the most from deforestation to make way for fields, farms, and other structures. On top of that, billions of trees are suffering from the ill-fated global warming. Not only can they become nutritionally deficient due to the heat, but abnormal temperatures every summer cause forest fires. And, of course, trees suffer from chemicals that are contained in the soil and air.

To a greater extent, trees die due to mass cutting and forest fires.

According to the 2021 State of the World’s Trees report, a third of all tree species are currently teetering on the brink of existence. To be more precise, scientists have counted 17,500 species of trees that could disappear forever from the face of the Earth. Based on this, the researchers conclude that trees are the most affected by human activities, and not animals, people and smaller plants.

Trees on the brink of extinction

Most trees perform the same functions: they produce oxygen, they are home to many kinds of animals, and so on. But among them there are unique species that grow only in a few parts of the world and are home to the same amazing animals and a source of rare substances.

An example is the cinnabar-red dracaena ( Dracaena cinnabari ). It is also known as the Dragon Tree and grows exclusively on the island of Socotra in the northwest Indian Ocean. Outwardly, Dracaena looks like a huge mushroom with a green hat. This giant plant is the source of “dragon blood”, which is a bizarre tree resin. Previously, it was used as a varnish for metal surfaces. It could also be used to heal wounds, and women apply it to the skin of the face for a softening effect.

Dragon tree on Socotra island

Another good example is the “loneliest palm”, which is a member of the species Hyophorbe amaricaulis. Previously, they grew on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, but today there is only one copy – it grows in the botanical garden in the city of Curepipe.

Single specimen of Hyophorbe amaricaulis

What are trees for?

If you ask passers-by about why trees grow on Earth, only a few options will come to mind. Many believe that trees are primarily needed to produce oxygen, so that animals have a place to live, and people have something to heat houses and baths with. In general, all this is the correct answer, but the role of trees in our lives is much greater.

According to scientists, the lives of 880 million people depend on firewood available for heating their homes today. Most of them buy firewood, and 1.6 billion people live within 5 kilometers of the forest and produce firewood on their own.

Trees keep people warm

Trees are also a source of fruits, nuts, leaves, and so on – people eat them and use them to make medicines. Calculations show that the trade in tree fruits annually brings in 88 billion dollars. And if you take into account the trade in building materials and everything else related to trees, then they annually bring the world 1.3 trillion dollars. So, at least, scientists think.

Trees are a rich source of food

And, of course, trees are home to a huge number of animals. Cutting down one forest triggers a domino effect: the extinction of some living creatures leads to the death of others, and in the end, problems reach a person. It can be assumed that animal-borne diseases like coronavirus and smallpox have spread as a result of deforestation – animals have nowhere to live and they are more likely to come into contact with people.

In general, the disappearance of trees is a huge problem for humanity. Scientists warn about this and call for a more careful attitude to nature, but there is no particular effect from this. In addition to trees, our future depends heavily on insects. Read about why it is good to eat insects.

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