How many tree species are there in the world?

(4 April 2017)  Botanic Gardens Conservation International, BGCI, has been working for over two years, consulting over 500 published sources and liaising with experts all over the world to find the answer – 60,065 tree species. ‘GlobalTreeSearch’ is the first list of its kind, documenting all of the world’s known tree species and their country level distributions.

It may surprise you to learn that before today we didn’t know how many tree species there were in the world. Of all the countries in the world, Brazil has the most tree species, with 8,715 species, followed by Colombia (5,776) and then Indonesia (5,142).

The database comprises of over 375,500 records, which took over two years to compile. Dr Paul Smith, BGCI’s Secretary General, explains “Although it seems extraordinary that it has taken us until 2017 to publish the first global, authoritative list of tree species, it is worth remembering that GlobalTreeSearch represents a huge scientific effort encompassing the discovery, collection and describing of tens of thousands of plant species. This is ‘big science’ involving the work of thousands of botanists over a period of centuries.”

BGCI’s main reason for undertaking the challenge of documenting the world’s tree diversity was to provide a tool for people trying to conserve rare and threatened tree species. GlobalTreeSearch will form the backbone of the Global Tree Assessment, an initiative to assess the conservation status of all the world’s tree species by 2020. This will allow the prioritisation of the tree species that are most in need of conservation action so we can ensure that no tree species is lost forever.

To find out more about the world’s 60,065 tree species, GlobalTreeSearch is now available here and the scientific paper is available here.

The announcement in full is here.