On Thursday New England Wild Flower Society released a report in which 3.500 species of plants in New England and New Hampshire were studied. The authors discovered that 22% of them are rare, endangered and even extinct. Many plants which ranged over a larger geographical area in the past are now in decline. The cause of this is climate, pollution, development project sand invasive species. Ossipee Pine Barrensa and Franconia Notch are among the plants which are facing extinction.
The report was based on information and analysis gathered from volunteers and credential botanist from New England and also data extracted from historical surveys.
Another worrying statistic which the researchers discovered showed that over 30% of the current species are not native to the area. The problem is the fact that these invasive species compete with the native ones. They crowd out the existing plants and hinder them from growing.
Debbi Edelstein, executive director of the society, explained that the native plants of New England are in increasing danger. Even people’s lawns can be considered non-native plants. Professor of the University of Delaware, Douglas Tallamy, said that people themselves are to blame for displacing native plant communities by decorating their gardens with plants that are imported. Edelstein suggests that action should be taken. It is of utter importance to save the plants because they stand at the basis of the food chain.
The plants also play an essential role in the ecological hierarchy so their decline has an impact on both humans and animals. For example the Ossipee Pine Barrens supports rare butterflies and moths and also several species of birds. And this plant experiences habitat loss because of the invasive species.
Senior ecologist Elizabeth Farnsworth of Wild Flower Society and author of the report claimed that the large population of deer is an important factor which contributed to the loss of forest. This is caused by the fact that deer feed on young seedlings. She describes the damage caused by the deer as being quite dramatic.
Farnsworth said that people can help to preserve the plants by simply planting native species on their properties or by teaching their children to appreciate the importance of native plants. She also added that it is important to recognize that plant species are wily. They can change their habitat it they possess the necessary tools for dispersing and finding right habitats.
Image Source: Wanderforth
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