Conker Trees Added to List of Dying Out Things

By Gary Cutlack on at

The mighty horse chestnut, AKA the conker tree, is one of the highest profile additions to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's very long list of tree species at risk of being obliterated by the modern world, but humankind as a whole is off the hook for this one; it's because of moths.

We may have had a hand in making the world a nicer place for moths to exist, but still. It's constant attack by the invasive leaf-miner moth that is slowly killing off Europe's stash of conker trees, with the tree now officially classified as Vulnerable, so hug one next time you see one instead of hitting it so conkers fall out. Logging, building, fires and general land clearing are also to blame in part, but it's mainly the moth that's doing for the poor old conker.

All trees as a whole are having a rough time of it too, with the IUCN's survey finding the 58 per cent of all European trees are threatened by extinction. And we can't blame the moths for all of them. The IUCN's Craig Hilton-Taylor said: "It is alarming that over half of Europe's endemic tree species are now threatened with extinction. Trees are essential for life on earth, and European trees in all their diversity are a source of food and shelter for countless animal species such as birds and squirrels, and play a key economic role. From the EU to regional assemblies and the conservation community, we all need to work together to ensure their survival." [IUCN]

Image credit: Wikipedia