The Issue

Butterfly in prairie

By 2050, the world could lose tens of thousands of plant species—with some estimates predicting a loss of up to one-third of the world's plant species (about 150,000).

In the United States alone, we risk losing 25 percent of the plant species that exist today. Of the millions of acres of native Midwest prairie that existed years ago, only a tiny fraction remains today. These fragments are in danger of disappearing completely, and with them, the birds, insects, and other animals that depend on them. Some of these species are found nowhere else.

The disappearance of one single species is a lost opportunity, such as a chemical or genetic answer that could solve a medical problem or change the way we live.

All life depends on plants

Why should we care about what happens to the plants? Why does it matter?

We rely on plants for everything that sustains life: Air. Food. Clothing. Shelter. Clean water. Medicine. A seemingly obvious fact, but one that most people do not realize. Now that you do, join us. Save the plants. Save the planet.

Why are plants at risk?

Many factors are to blame. Agriculture, urbanization, invasive species, pollution, and global climate change have all played a role.  According to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “A global assessment of data since 1970 has shown it is likely that anthropogenic (human-caused) warming has had a discernable influence on many physical and biological systems.”

The report, compiled by leading scientists worldwide, is comprehensive and compelling and its message is clear: the world is warming up and we humans are to blame. Our impact on this earth is having profound repercussions, changing the planet as we know it.

The consequences are serious, but not hopeless—if we act now. Learn more about the issues and the role the Chicago Botanic Garden is playing in protecting the world’s plant species.