7 plant species go extinct

Bailam tree
Kamal Hossain

Dolonchapa is a familiar flower but not many know fitachapa. This plant went extinct quite long ago. The forest department has declared the plant species extinct which indicates that the plant has not been seen anywhere in the country in the past 100 years. Six more species have been added to the list of extinct plants while five species are on the verge of extinction. The latter will disappear fast if no action is taken immediately.

This information has appeared on the red list on the condition of the plant species of Bangladesh. The survey conducted on 1,000 species of plants showed that 39 per cent of the species are critically endangered. Other than that, researchers feel the need to conduct survey on about 3000 more species of plants.

Bashpata tree
Sharif Hossain

Four senior botanists of the country have led the team responsible to prepare the red list of these plants by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Although the red list for animals has been made several times in the country, the list of plants was made for the first time. Other species listed as endangered are Kurajiri, Bhanu Deypat, Gola Anjan, Sat Sarila, Therma Jaam and Mytrasis. Apart from this, there were tali palm trees in the forests of the country. Only very few of them are left in various universities of the country including Dhaka University and so this has also been declared extinct.

Scientists have categorised five species of plants that are critically endangered, meaning that they will disappear quickly if urgent measures are not taken to save them. They are Bashpata (Brown Pine), Wild date, balborax, tall trias orchid and ball tree. Researchers and scientists conducted a survey across the country and found that very few of these trees are surviving.

According to the data of red list assessment, out of 1000 plant species, 7 are extinct, 5 are critically endangered, 127 are endangered, 262 are at risk, 69 are near at risk, 271 are well preserved in the environment and there are lack of information about 258 plant species.

The list was presented in a workshop organised at Bon Bhaban in the capital. Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shahab Uddin, as the chief guest in the event, directed the officials of the Forest Department to take urgent steps to save the critically endangered plant species of the country. He said, conservation should be prioritised to maintain the balance of the country’s ecosystem and protect the other endangered plants.

The discussants said that a survey of the remaining 3,000 plant species of the country will be completed to have a clear idea of the condition of such species. This list will be updated from time to time. Recommendations are also made regarding the proper implementation of existing laws and regulations for the protection of endangered plant species.

The original article with the final results was jointly presented by the member of the survey team, professor. Md. Oliur Rahman and Professor Saleh Ahammad Khan.

Professor Saleh Ahammad Khan told Prothom Alo, "Most of the plants in the country are useful to us in one way or the other. They also contribute to our country's biodiversity. Earlier, we lost many types of plants due to urbanisation and agriculture. We must take initiatives to preserve these endangered species.”

According to IUCN Bangladesh, there are about 500,000 species of flowering plants in the world. Of these, about 295,000 plants have been identified by Kew Herbarium, the largest herbarium in the UK. According to the Bangladesh National Herbarium, the country had 3,840 plant species as of 2019. However, 10 more plant species were discovered later.

*The report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat