By Lydia Murphy
The latest Red List to be published under the Global Tree Assessment shows that half of all Magnolia species are threatened with extinction in the wild. To find such a high proportion of threatened species in such a well-known and widely cultivated plant family is alarming, and signals the need for more concerted conservation action to protect these valuable trees.
The Red List of Magnoliaceae presents conservation assessments conducted by experts for 304 wild magnolia species from around the world. The assessments have been carried out using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, an internationally recognised and widely used system for classifying species at risk of extinction. These assessments reveal that nearly half (48%) of the Magnolia species assessed are threatened with extinction in the wild.
Magnolia are principally threatened by logging activity, with habitat loss due to land conversion to agriculture and livestock farming also a significant factor in their global decline. Other threats include collection of wild plant material and impacts of climate change. “Magnolias are an ancient group of trees that have survived epochs of global change. Now we stand to lose half of all species unless we take action to prevent extinction,” says Sara Oldfield, Co-Chair of the IUCN/SSC Global Tree Specialist Group and co-author of this report.