Mangroves underwent the most significant change, with more than a quarter of their area transformed over the course of the decade, lost mostly to shrimp farms and golf courses – although the losses were partially offset by mangrove growth in other areas. Tropical and subtropical coniferous forests saw changes of almost 25 percent.
Invasive plant species are also considered a major problem, with approximately 5,000 species worldwide threatening native plants and damaging natural ecosystems. Ultimately, climate change is also expected to take its toll, with more than 10 percent of the planet's vegetation considered highly vulnerable to climatic variability.
Earth's 25-Year Tree Loss Would Cover Texas Twice
The report - which took a team of 80 scientists more than a year to compile - is intended to be the first of an ongoing, annual assessment, to help the development of conservation strategies.
"This is the first ever global assessment on the state of the world's plants," said Professor Kathy Willis, director of science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in a press release. "We already have a ‘State of the World' (for) birds, sea-turtles, forests, cities, mothers, fathers, children even antibiotics but not plants. I find this remarkable given the importance of plants to all of our lives - from food, medicines, clothing, building materials and biofuels, to climate regulation. This report therefore provides the first step in filling this critical knowledge gap."