According to what researchers are calling the first “scientifically credible” estimate, there are 14 percent more tree species than previously thought. The researchers anticipate that 9,200 of the projected 73,300 species have yet to be discovered. However, the majority of rare species are found in tropical forests, which are rapidly vanishing due to climate change and deforestation.

The research is based on a database that contains tens of millions of trees from over 100,000 forest plots all around the world. The researchers utilized statistical approaches to estimate the number of tree species that would be present, adjusting for gaps in the data. The findings show that more has to be done to safeguard the amazing life forms that are needed for food, timber, and medicine, as well as to combat climate change by drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Lead researcher Dr. Peter Reich, of the University of Minnesota in St Paul, said the findings highlighted the vulnerability of global forest biodiversity. “Our data will help us assess where biodiversity is the most threatened,” he told in an interview. This is where the researchers detected hotspots of known and unknown uncommon species throughout the tropics and subtropics of South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. “Knowing about these hotspots, hopefully, can help prioritize future conservation efforts,” Dr. Peter Reich adds.

Natural forests with a wide range of species are the healthiest and most productive, and they are vital to both the world economy and nature. The vast majority are in tropical countries, where deforestation is mostly driven by the production of ingredients for Western foods like beef, palm oil, and soy.