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Why are flowers important?

Food, medicine and inspiration all come from pretty little flowers — so why do we underestimate their power?

> 20% of plants face extinction

Threatened species

Plants are the basis of food chains and critical to all life on Earth — but the first global analysis of plant status in 2010 found that more than 20% of the world's 380,000 plant species are at risk of extinction, making plants more threatened than birds, of which 12% are in jeopardy. What’s more, this loss also means the loss of the wild relatives of our food crops, making more difficult for us to help them adapt to changes in climate and other threats.

58% drop in beehives

Food security

Flowering plants produce the vast majority of food we eat, like fruits, grains, beans and potatoes. In fact, one in three bites of food is made possible by bees and other pollinators — but in the U.S, the number of managed honey bee colonies has declined steadily over the past 60 years, from 6 million beehives in 1947 to 3 million in 1990 and just 2.5 million today. Beyond the U.S., much of the world is losing other wild pollinators and their habitats, like Monarch butterflies and bats.

1/2 of tropical forests cleared


Deemed the “world’s largest pharmacy,” tropical rainforests and their myriad flowers and plants offer cures for many ailments and diseases. Around 70% of the plants identified by the U.S. National Cancer Institute as useful in the treatment of cancer are found only in rainforests — and the development of more than half of all commercial medicines was inspired by flowers and other biodiversity. Unfortunately, about half of the world’s tropical forests have been cleared, placing nature’s medicine cabinet in peril.

Protecting nature, down to the tiniest flower

Over the last 30 years, Conservation International has helped to protect the places that are most critical for sustaining nature and all of its benefits — in total, 730 million hectares (2.8 million square miles) of land, marine and coastal areas across 78 countries, equivalent to 75% of the United States. Most of our programs help communities sustainably manage their natural resources. We have trained hundreds of students and local community members — the next generation of scientists and conservationists ready to be inspired by flowers and all that nature provides.

Protect Nature
Just announced: Every dollar 3X MATCHED, up to $16,500, to support sustainable development that helps communities thrive economically while protecting nature
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