A report warned that human activities, such as farming, livestock and logging, put nearly a third of the world’s tree species at risk of extinction.
More than 500 experts from 60 institutions collected data over a five-year period for The State of the World’s Trees report from Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
The researchers evaluated 58,497 tree species – which grow around the world – and found that about 17,500 species are on an alarming path to extinction. These include well-known species such as magnolia, oak, maple and ebony.
Another human-driven threat is climate change, which is altering the ranges of different species’ habitats – with Central American cloud forest species at particular risk.
The report noted that at least 180 tree species are directly threatened by rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions, including magnolias in the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, the increased fire risk poses significant threats to the various trees in Madagascar and oak species in the United States.
According to scientists, more than 440 tree species with fewer than 50 individuals survived in the wild, one example of this is the Malawi Mulani cedar, which is now represented by a few trees.
The highest proportion of threatened trees can be found on the islands – including 69 per cent of those growing in the UK’s St. Helena Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic and 59 per cent of those in Madagascar.
The report warns that hundreds of species are teetering on the edge of a cliff – like the Minnai white ray, which is represented by just 30 trees in its North Wales habitat.
Humans use one in five tree species directly for applications including food, fuel, horticulture, medicine and timber, yet overexploitation and mismanagement are harming many species – at least 142 have been recorded as recently extinct.