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230 plant species face extinction


RED LIST: Initiatives must be taken to prevent this, says institute

KUALA LUMPUR: NO fewer than 230 plant species are on the verge of extinction in Peninsular Malaysia.

This is the sobering figure provided by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) based on its latest 'Malaysia Plant Red List' research.

FRIM Forest Biodiversity division director Dr Saw Leng Guan, who is behind the list, to date had identified over 8,300 plant species in the peninsula, out of more than 20,000 species in the country.

Saw pointed out that of the 8,300 species, 975 plants were selected for conservation status assessment last year, out of which, 411 plants (42.2 per cent) were classified under the "threatened category".

Based on the assessment, 97 species (10 per cent) were listed as "critically endangered", of which 33 of them were plants threatened with extinction; while 133 (13.6 per cent) were classified as "endangered", 148 (15.2 per cent) as "vulnerable" and 29 (three per cent) as "rare".

Among the critically endangered species are the Dipterocarpus coriaceus (keruing paya), Dipterocarpus semivestitus (keruing padi), Parashorea globosa (meranti pasir daun besar), Hopea bilitonesis and Vatica flavida (resak padi), all of which can be only found in Perak.

The Dipterocarpus sarawakensis (keruing layang) are found in Terengganu, Hopea subalata (merawan kanching) in Selangor, and Hopea auriculata in Johor, Pahang and Perak.

Meanwhile, 182 (18.7 per cent) of the species were classified as "near threatened", 327 (33.5 per cent) were labelled as "least concern" and 55 (5.6 per cent) were listed as "data deficient" (insufficient information for a proper assessment of conservation status to be made).

"The percentage of species in each of the conservation status category has been consistent for almost two decades now," Saw said, adding that initiatives must be taken to prevent the critically endangered species from extinction.

To date, four plant species have been officially declared as extinct in Malaysia. They are the the Oreogrammitis crispatula Parris and Oreogrammitis kunstleri Parris from the Grammitidaceae family, the Begonia eiromischa (woolly-stalked Begonia) from the Begoniaceae family and the Shorea kuantanensis, endemic to Malaysia from the Dipterocarpaceae family.

The four species were officially declared extinct in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List 2010.

FRIM Forest Biodiversity division director Dr Saw Leng Guan with plant specimens from Pahang. Pic by Saddam Yusoff


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