Extinction Threat

Many trees across Europe have either become ‘endangered’ or added to the official extinction list.

The latest news from the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) states that the Horse Chestnut is becoming an ‘Endangered’ European Tree.


Horse chestnut among “endangered” European trees Over half of Europe’s native trees are threatened with extinction, according to a new high-level assessment of the continent’s biodiversity.

European Red List of Trees

The European Red List of Trees, published by the IUCN says invasive species, unsustainable logging and urban development have put 58% of Europe’s 454 endemic tree species at risk. Of these, it describes 66 species (15%) as being “critically endangered”, though these are chiefly of genus Sorbus, which consists of “complex arrays of hybrids” across the Continent including the UK.

Leaf-Miner Moth

The horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) has meanwhile been assessed as “vulnerable” following declines caused by the leaf-miner moth (Cameraria ohridella), which is thought to have first appeared in the tree’s native region of the Balkans before spreading across Europe where the tree has been introduced. This has added to pressures from logging, forest fires and tourism, the report says, leaving no more than 10,000 trees scattered across its native range.

International Union of Conservation of Nature

Head of the IUCN Red List Unit Craig Hilton-Taylor said:

“Measures for conserving these threatened species, and many other overlooked species highlighted in the European Red List assessments, need to be integrated into regular conservation planning and land management.” Almost half of Europe’s shrub species are also threatened with extinction, the IUCN says.

Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the IUCN Red List unit, also described the findings as “alarming”.

“Trees are essential for life on Earth, and European trees in all their diversity are a source of food and shelter for countless animal species such as birds and squirrels, and play a key economic role,” he said.

BBC News

BBC News covered the story and said:

“Experts are now turning their attention to plants, with an assessment of all 454 tree species native to the continent.

The report found:

  • 42% are threatened with extinction (assessed as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered)
  • Among endemic trees – those that don’t exist anywhere else on Earth – 58% are threatened.

Species highlighted include the horse chestnut, which is declining across Europe, and most of almost 200 trees in the family that includes the rowan and mountain ash”.

Horticultural Week

Horicultural Week also covered the story and you can view it by clicking here.


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