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Third of conifers under threat of extinction

world Updated: Jul 03, 2013 10:47 IST

Reuters
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A third of the world’s conifers, the biggest and longest-lived organisms on the planet, are at risk of extinction, with logging and disease the main threats, scientists said on Tuesday.

The study of more than 600 types of conifers — trees and shrubs including cedars, cypresses and firs — updates a “Red List” on which almost 21,000 of 70,000 species of animals and plants assessed in recent years are under threat.

“The overall picture is alarming,” said Jane Smart, head of the biodiversity conservation group of the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, grouping scientists, governments and environmental organisations.

The IUCN said in a report that 34% of conifers were at risk of extinction, up from 30% in the last assessment in 1998.

California’s Monterey Pine, the world’s most widely planted pine and prized as a fast-growing source of pulp, was moved to a rating of “endangered” from “least concern” because of threats such as a spread of fungal disease.

Conifers are the largest and longest-lived species on the planet.