Madagascar’s Plants Are Running Out of Time

Scientists at RBG Kew in London are warning that Madagascar’s native plants are in grave danger of extinction. The fourth largest island in the world is a biodiversity hot spot, home to over 11,000 plant species, most of which are found nowhere else. That includes almost 1000 orchid species like AngraecumsJumelleas, and Oeoniellas. Habitat destruction, climate change, and invasive plants have been taking their toll, and many varieties have already been lost. Stuart Cable, head of Kew’s Madagascar research, warned that “Dozens of species are known from old collections but have not been seen since. Extinction is happening all the time here. It is very scary.”

Fortunately, there are glimmers of good news. Madagascar’s government has increased protected areas. Seed banks are storing some seeds to stave off extinction of those plants. And a Kew project has local schoolchildren involved in raising seedlings and returning plants to the wild, such as the very endangered Angraecum longicalcar. That may save this orchid species from oblivion, but there are no easy solutions for Madagascar’s extinction crisis.

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