Today’s Solutions: January 21, 2022

Scientists have explored and studied much of our terrestrial world, but there is one place that remains quite the hidden gem: New Guinea. The “paradise island” has some of the best-preserved ecosystems on the planet, including coastal mangroves, huge expanses of untouched tropical rainforest and beautiful alpine grasslands.

But while it’s known that New Guinea is teeming with life, relatively little is known about the specific flora that exists there. To protect the plants of New Guinea, identifying and naming plants is a key first step, which is why botanists have spent years making an inventory of all the plants there.

What the botanists have found is that New Guinea has the highest plant diversity of any island in the world: More than 13,000 species can be found on New Guinea, ranging from tiny orchids to giant tree ferns, two-thirds of which do not exist elsewhere.

Botanists have been identifying and naming plants collected there since the 17th century, with samples stored in herbaria around the world. Only now have botanists been able to put all this information together in a full inventory of plant life, as has been done for other biodiversity hotspots, including the Amazon. The findings, published in Nature, will be used to protect “one of the last unknowns for science”.

“If we lose them, there’s no way we can restore them from anywhere else because they’re just not found outside the island,” said Dr. Tim Utteridge of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. “We have a real responsibility to conserve this unique plant life.”

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

This solar panel covered building reflects Taiwan’s green energy transition

Most projects designed by the Dutch architecture firm MVRDV tend to leave a lasting impression on whoever lays their eyes on them. The company's upcoming project, Sun Rock, is no exception. Designed for Taiwan’s government-owned ... Read More

Why you shouldn’t peel all your vegetables

In her book, Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson reveals that she doesn’t own a vegetable peeler. As a result, “food prep is much faster, my compost output (peelings) is considerably reduced, and we benefit from ... Read More

This online sex shop serves people living with and beyond cancer

Being diagnosed with, receiving treatment for, and surviving cancer are all incredibly impactful experiences that affect all areas of a person’s life—including sex. Many people aren’t comfortable bringing up these two sensitive subjects in casual ... Read More

Zebrafish brains reveal new information about our memories

It seems like we're writing about fish a whole lot lately! Last week, we featured an article about goldfish learning to drive. This week, zebrafish, a species studied for their relatively long lifespans, are helping ... Read More

These sustainably powered homes can raise families out of poverty

Finding and sharing positive ways to tackle the world’s challenges is our favorite activity at The Optimist Daily, so it’s no surprise that we are especially excited about BillionBricks and Architecture Brio’s PowerHyde solar homes, ... Read More

5 reasons that secrets sour relationships & how to break the secret-keep...

According to a 2018 study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people on average keep around 13 secrets at a time, five of which have never been revealed to anyone. It’s worth mentioning ... Read More