The IUCN List of Threatened Species has released a study that reports over half of native European tree species are threatened with extinction due to pollution, invasive diseases, pests, and urban development.
The IUCNís European red list of trees found 58% of these endemic trees are threatened and 15% (66 species) were classified as critically endangered.
"We are encouraged to plant more trees, quite rightly, but we have to be very careful to ensure they donít come with pest species. We need to be very careful about biosecurity," said one of the authors of the report, David Allen of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
"It is alarming that over half of Europeís endemic tree species are now threatened with extinction. Trees are essential for life on earth, and European trees in all their diversity are a source of food and shelter for countless animal species such as birds and squirrels, and play a key economic role. From the EU to regional assemblies and the conservation community, we all need to work together to ensure their survival," said Craig Hilton-Taylor, Head of the IUCN Red List Unit. "Perhaps most importantly, measures for conserving these threatened species, and many other overlooked species highlighted in todayís European Red List assessments, need to be integrated into regular conservation planning and land management."
"Iíve been keeping an eye on it over the past five years. Last year, I began to get quite worried. This year, huge areas are experiencing a dieback and itís not just affecting saplings like it was before. Now itís whole big trees. I drove in some parts of Pembrokeshire recently, and every five or 10 metres there was an ash tree dead or dying. This is a major problem Ė way worse than I expected it to be."
"The high extinction threats revealed by the European red list are very alarming, given that 92% of the mollusc species native to Europe are endemic to the continent. Thus, once these species are lost from Europe, they are gone forever," Eike Neubert, an IUCN mollusc specialist, said. "In order to restore terrestrial mollusc numbers in Europe, essential changes will be needed in policies relating to land use, along with careful control of urbanisation and sustainable management of semi-natural areas."
"We are seeing our natural environment being eaten away,Ē he said. Itís such a wide scale problem, rather like climate, that it needs major policy change but what we should be doing seems impractical so it is only when things get really dire that we will take action. We should be looking after this more strategically. There really is no Planet B. When I think at how this place will be in the next 50 years, it is extremely worrying."