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Earth may be home to 9,000 more species of trees than believed

By Study Finds

Earth could be home to 9,000 more species of tree than previously believed, according to scientists. A third of these trees are rare species with a population that is limited in terms of numbers and the size of area they cover, a research team from around the world reports.

The first-ever estimate of the number of tree species in the world shows there are more 73,000 different types of tree in existence — 9,000 more than was previously thought. It took academics three years to count them all. In all, 150 scientists working with the Global Forest Biodiversity Initiative are behind the study.

Researchers say their findings highlight how fragile biodiversity is and how vulnerable it is to changes caused by humans, such as the climate crisis and unsustainable land use, with rare species being at the greatest risk. Better scientific expertise about the richness and diversity of trees found all over the world is key to preserving ecosystems, according to the academics.

“These results highlight the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity to anthropogenic changes, particularly land use and climate, because the survival of rare taxa is disproportionately threatened by these pressures,” says study co-author Peter Reich, of the University of Minnesota, in a statement.

The team collected an extensive database of forest tree species and then mapped them. This process identified around 40 million trees belonging to 64,000 species. Once this was done, the researchers used artificial intelligence and a supercomputer at an American lab to do complex calculations, which discovered there are in fact 73,000 tree species, 14 percent more than previously thought.

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Monday, June 6, 2022