From tiny Pygmy Marmosets to the enormously lofty Giraffe, what’s something we have in common with every living creature on this planet? Plants.
We see them, eat them and use them every day – often without even thinking about it. But did you know plants play a huge role in the survival of all species on earth?
Not only do they provide us with the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, they also help clean our water, stabilise the earth’s weather patterns and provide us with resources for making, building and medicine.
But sadly, plants are in trouble.
A study published on Monday by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew revealed that almost 600 species have vanished in the last 250 years.
More specifically, since the year 1750 a whopping 571 recorded plant species have gone extinct – double the number of mammals, birds and amphibians who met the same fate during that period.
While those statistics are alarming, what’s even worse is scientists predict this number is actually much higher.
Now, let’s not beat around the bush.
The cause of these extinctions? Humans.
The study states human activity such as deforestation and the conversion of native habitat for agricultural use as the main reason we are losing plant species at a rate 500 times higher than normal.
This poses a big threat to life as we know it on planet earth.
Everything in nature is interconnected and when we lose plant species, we lose the backbone of functioning ecosystems and vital food and shelter sources for all animals. And devastatingly, many fauna species will quickly follow suit.
So, what can you do to help change the outcome of this biodiversity emergency?
Buy recycled paper, toilet paper and tissues
Shockingly, every year hundreds of thousands of Australian trees and cut down just to make one product – toilet paper. By switching to recycled products, you’re helping to reduce the amount of trees logged every year simply so we can throw it away.
Avoid products that contain palm oil
Many of the species that call Adelaide Zoo home are threatened in the wild by the unsustainable cultivation of palm oil. Because of this industry, Sumatran Tigers, Sumatran Orangutans and Malayan Tapirs in the wild all face the destruction of their habitats. Next time you’re at the supermarket check that the products you’re buying are labelled as containing certified sustainable palm oil, which is grown and harvested in a sustainable fashion. That way you’ll be supporting sustainable practices with your wallet rather than deforestation.
Choose native species for your garden over exotics
By planting native plants in your garden instead of introduced species, you’re not only helping to provide local wildlife with food and shelter, but also connecting native plant populations in your area.
Spread the message of plant importance
Even though plants are incredibly important for animals, ecosystems and human wellbeing, we don’t hear about them as much as animal species. Take the time to learn about the importance of local plants in your area and how you can help protect them. And don’t forget to pass the message on!
Support Zoos SA’s conservation work
As a conservation charity that exists to save species from extinction, a large part of what we do is protecting important flora and restoring vital habitat for a number of animal species both here in Australia and around the world. From the revegetation of native plant corridors crucial to cockatoos to providing protection to a large area of orangutan habitat in the Sumatran rainforest, we’re committed to growing, protecting and restoring plant habitats for generations to come. So why not visit Adelaide Zoo or Monarto Zoo or become a Zoos SA member today? The plants will thank you!