When does a tree become endangered?

Endangered trees do not get the same exposure as endangered animals in the media. However, it is still a very real problem that needs to be addressed. Today there are approximately 60,000 trees on our planet, and a massive 10% are threatened with extinction. Furthermore, 1100 of the trees on the list are considered critically endangered, meaning that action is needed to protect them from extinction. 

Trees play a vital role in all our lives. They provide us with oxygen, improve water and air quality, and provide food and shelter for animals and other plants. But what makes a tree endangered?

The main threat to these endangered trees comes from deforestation and destruction of woodlands for agriculture and cattle. In addition, pests, disease and competition from invasive plants have caused many species to become endangered. 

Even here in the UK, we have 15 tree species listed as priority species in the UK biodiversity plan.

When we look at Europe, there are 454 native tree species, of which a huge 42% have been assessed as threatened with extinction. A particular area of concern is endemic tree species, which do not exist outside their native country, where 58% have been assessed as endangered. While we couldn’t possibly list all the endangered species of trees here, full details of the ones that have reached endangered status can be viewed here on the IUCN Red List. This is the most comprehensive list of all species, including plants, animals and fungi, which has been assessed for their risk of extinction. Today this is the best measure of how all life on earth is doing and which species are at risk.

What's the cause?

There are a few reasons why so many species of trees are becoming endangered:

  • Problematic species are invading the habitat: This is actually the most severe threat caused by pests, diseases, and alien plants introduced into the wild by humans due to increased global trade and travel.

  • Deforestation: Trees are harvested for timber and, in some cases, entire forests are felled and converted for agricultural or pasture use.

  • Climate change: Although an indirect threat, it can affect certain trees' ability to survive if they cannot adapt.

  • Urban development and ecosystem modifications – Natural habitats are reduced or destroyed by expansion of urban areas.

  • Fires: As a result of climate change events or deliberate fires that are started such as what has been seen in California.

The number of trees becoming endangered is overwhelming, but we can all take steps to protect them. It starts with protecting the habitats and saying no to unsustainable timber production where entire forests are felled to be converted for agricultural use.

Here at Ecochoice, we support and promote the use of FSC certified timbers. This means the trees are respectfully sourced and in a way that ensures the forest survives and can continue to grow. By choosing sustainably sourced timber from us, you are protecting the forests for future generations as well as reducing the impact on a tree's endangered status. 



How can we help?