Critically Endangered Plants

Critically endangered (CR) species is one that has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. 

Critically endangered is the highest level a species can become before it ultimately hits “extinct in the wild” and then “extinct”.  This is a result of rapid population declines of 80 to more than 90 percent over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 50 individuals, or other factors (such as severely fragmented populations, long generation times, or isolated habitats).  Decline in extent of occurrence (EOO), area of occupancy (AOO), area/extent/quality of habitat, number of locations/sub-populations, or amount of matured individuals are some of the main characteristics of critically endangered taxon.

Threats to Flowering Plants

Residential & Commercial Development

Human settlements or other non-agricultural land uses with a defined and relatively compact area pose threats to critically endangered plants. The first threat that falls into this category is Housing and Urban Areas. These areas are human cities, towns, and settlements including non-housing development typically integrated with housing. Development on housing and urban areas causes habitat degradation in riverine, estuary and coastal areas. Commercial and Industrial Areas is the second type of threat under this category. These areas are factories and other commercial centres, including shipyards and airports which signify development yet pose threats. Residential and Commercial Development threats also include Tourism and Recreation Areas. This threat focuses on how tourism and recreation sites, with a substantial footprint, have also been affecting the habitat of critically endangered plants. 

Agriculture & Aquaculture

Agriculture and aquaculture create threats from farming and ranching as a result of agricultural expansion and intensification, including silviculture, mariculture and aquaculture. Also, the impacts of any fencing around farmed areas pose direct threats. The threats are focused on the direct conversion of land to agricultural use. In terms of agriculture, direct threats are classified into Annual and Perennial Non-Timber Crops; Wood and Pulp Plantations; and Livestock Farming and Ranching. Annual and Perrenial Non-Timber Crops include Shifting Agriculture; Small-holder Farming; Agro-Industry Farming; and Scale Unknown/Unrecorded. Meanwhile, Wood and Pulp Plantations are divided into Small-holder Plantation; Agro-Industry Plantation and Scale Unknown/Unrecorded. Livestock Farming and Ranching, on the other hand, includes Nomadic Grazing, Small-holder Grazing, Ranching or Farming; Agro-industry Grazing, Ranching or Farming; and Scale Unknown/Unrecorded. In addition, Marine and Freshwater Aquaculture also pose direct threats. These threats include Subsistence/Artisanal, Industrial and Scale Unknown/Unrecorded aquaculture. 

Energy Production & Mining

The threats from the production of non-biological resources are classified under Energy Production and Mining. This category of direct threats are further classified into Oil and Gas Drilling; Mining and Quarrying; and Renewable Energy. Oil and Gas Drilling refers to the exploration, development and production of petroleum and other liquid hydrocarbons which are typically produced through oil wells, deep sea natural gas drilling, hydraulic fracking and others. Meanwhile, the exploration, development and production of minerals and rocks are collectively termed under Mining and Quarrying. These minerals and rocks are usually from coal strip mines, alluvial gold panning, gold mines, rock quarries, sand/salt mines, coral mining, deep sea nodules, guano harvesting and dredging outside of shipping lanes. The third classification of direct threat under Energy Production and Mining is Renewable Energy. The renewable energy are explored, developed and produced through geothermal power, solar farms, wind farms, tidal farms and others. 

Transportation & Service Corridors

This category of direct threats refers to the threats from long narrow transport corridors and the vehicles that use them including associated wildlife mortality. This class includes transportation corridors outside of human settlements and industrial developments. Transportation and Service Corridors are classified into Roads and Railroads; Utility and Service Lines; Shipping Lanes; and Flight Paths. Roads and Railroads are surface transport on roadways and dedicated tracks. This type of roads include highways, secondary roads, primitive roads, logging roads, bridges and causeways, road kill, fencing associated with roads, freight/passenger/mining railroads and others. Meanwhile, transport of energy and resources are classified under Utility and Service Lines. These lines include electrical and phone wires, aqueducts, oil and gas pipelines, electrocution of wildlife and others. The next classification is Shipping Lanes which focuses on the transport on and in freshwater and ocean waterways. Finally, air and space transport are also included under the Flight Paths category. 

Biological Resource Use

Biological Resource Use threats are from consumptive use of “wild” biological resources including both deliberate and unintentional harvesting effects. The first category is Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals. This category refers to the killing or trapping of terrestrial wild animals or animal products for commercial, recreation, subsistence, research or cultural purposes or even for control/persecution reasons. These acts include accidental mortality or bycatch. The second category that falls under this class of direct threat is Gathering Terrestrial Plants. This category focuses on plants, and other non-animal terrestrial species. Logging and Wood Harvesting, which refers to the harvesting trees and other woody vegetation, and Fishing and Harvesting Aquatic Resources, which primarily focus on the harvesting from aquatic environment, are also included in this class of threat. These activities may be done for intentional use or persecution/control, due to either small or large scale unintentional effects or even with unknown motivation. 

Human Intrusions & Disturbance

Human activities can alter, destroy and disturb habitats and species associated with non-consumptive uses of biological resources. These threats are classified into Human Intrusion and Disturbance. The human activities are further categorized into Recreational Activities; War, Civil Unrest and Military Exercises; and, Work and Other Activities. Recreational Activities refer to the specific activities by human for recreational reasons. This activity may be spending time in nature or traveling in vehicles outside of established transport corridors. On the other hand, the actions by formal or paramilitary forces without a permanent footprint are included in the War, Civil Unrest and Military Exercises category. The category focuses on military activities that have a large impact on the natural habitats but are not permanently restricted to a single area. Other than recreation or military activities, human activities are categorized under Work and Other Activities. 

Threats to Flowering Plants

Natural System Modifications

Natural System Modifications pose threats from actions that convert or degrade habitat in service of “managing” natural or semi-natural systems, often to improve human welfare. Natural processes that belong to this category includes Fire and Fire Suppression; Dams and Water Management/Use; and other Ecosystem Modifications. In terms of Fire and Fire Suppression, the focus is on the human activities that lead to either not enough fire or too much fire in the ecosystem. Increase and Suppression in Fire Frequency/Intensity as well as those with unknown or unrecorded trend are the focus of this category. With Dams and Water Management/Use, the focus in on the changing water flow patterns from their natural range of variation that lead to either not enough or too much water in the ecosystem. The Abstraction of Surface and Ground Water may be done for domestic, commercial, agricultural or unknown use in either small or large dams as well as on those with unknown size. 

Invasive & Other Problematic Species, Genes & Diseases

The ecosystem itself contain direct threats. These threats are classified under Invasive and other Problematic Species, Genes and Diseases. Invasive Non-native/Alien Species/Diseases are harmful species, unspecified or named, which are not originally found within the ecosystem and may directly or indirectly introduced and spread into it by human activities. Problematic Native Species/Diseases, on the contrary, are harmful species, unspecified or named, which are originally found within the ecosystem but have become “out-of-balance” or “released” directly or indirectly due to human activities. There are also threat from human altered or transported organisms or genes which are categorized into Introduced Genetic Material. The Problematic Species/Diseases may also have unknown origin as they may have been deliberately or accidentally introduced. The Viral/Prion-induced Diseases and those of Unknown Cause are also included in the categories of this threat. These species/genes/diseases have or are predicted to have harmful effects on biodiversity following their introduction, spread and increase in abundance.


Pollution are threats from the introduction of exotic and/or excess materials introduced to the environment. The first category, Domestic and Urban Waste Water, refers to the water-borne sewage and non-point runoff from housing and urban areas that include nutrients, toxic chemicals and/or sediments. Industrial and Military Effluents, on the other hand, refers to the water-borne pollutants such as oil spills, seepage from mining and other examples of industrial pollution which are unrecorded. Thirdly, the Agricultural and Forestry effluents category are also classified as water-borne pollutants from agricultural, silvicultural and aquaculture systems that include nutrients, toxic chemicals and/or sediments which have effects on the sites where they are applied. Garbage and Solid Waste, which refers to rubbish and other solid materials including those that entangle wildlife, is also included in the list. Atmospheric pollutants like acid rain, smog and ozone are classified under Air-Borne Pollutants while light, thermal and noise pollution are classified as Excess Energy. 

Geological Events

This classification of threat refers to the threats from catastrophic geological events. These geological events may led to loss of resilience making the species vulnerable to disturbance. Some of these geological events include volcanic events, which may include volcanic eruptions, emissions of volcanic gasses and others. Also, earthquakes and tsunamis are also under this classification of threat. Avalanches/landslides including mudslides and other associated events are also considered direct threats. These events may be part of natural phenomena in the ecosystem but they pose threat if the species or habitat is damaged. Occurrence of such geological events endangers not only the habitat but also the lives of the organisms. 

Climate Change and Severe Weather

The next classification of threat is Climate Change and Severe Weather. These are threats from long-climatic changes which may be linked to global warming and other severe climatic/weather events that are outside of the natural range of variation, or potentially can wipe out a vulnerable species or habitat. Habitat Shifting and Alteration is the first category under this threat. This category focuses on the major changes in habitat composition and location as the effects of climate change. Droughts, which refers to the period in which rainfall falls below the normal range of variation, is the second category under this class. As drought degrades the ecosystem, it is likely to cause species mortality and thus considered a great threat. Extreme temperatures, such in the occurrence of heat waves, cold spells, oceanic temperature changes and disappearance of glaciers, are also considered category of this threat. Furthermore, storms and flooding and other impacts of climate change are likewise threats.

Other Options

All threats which are not identified in the above classifications of direct threats are classified under Other Options. The movement in the ecosystem is still subjected to observation and exploration which opens for new discoveries and invention. While change is believed to be the only permanent thing, discoveries are likewise continuous. For as long as there is life in the ecosystem, there will always a threat to it. Therefore, the classifications of threat above may not be enough to cover everything. This Other Options classification gives room to new and emerging threats as this option allows for these new threats to be recorded. 

Help Our Cause!

 Your support and donations will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions for plants around the globe, and will fund our mission to contribute to the research and assessment efforts of conservation organizations.

Thank you!

Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card