HOW DID THE CONCEPT OF BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOTS BEGIN : Earth’s most biologically rich —yet threatened—terrestrial regions.
In 1988, British ecologist Norman Myers published a seminal paper identifying 10 tropical forest “hotspots.” These regions were characterized both by exceptional levels of plant endemism and serious levels of habitat loss.
Conservation International, one of CEPF’s global donor organizations, adopted Myers’ hotspots as its institutional blueprint in 1989. In 1996, the organization made the decision to undertake a reassessment of the hotspots concept, including an examination of whether key areas had been overlooked. Three years later an extensive global review was undertaken, which introduced quantitative thresholds for the designation of biodiversity hotspots and resulted in the designation of 25.
In 2005, an additional analysis brought the total number of biodiversity hotspots to 34, based on the work of nearly 400 specialists. In 2011, the Forests of East Australia was identified as the 35th hotspot by a team of researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) working with Conservation International.
To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, an area must meet two strict criteria:
- Contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants found nowhere else on Earth (known as “endemic” species).
- Have lost at least 70 percent of its primary native vegetation.
Many of the biodiversity hotspots exceed the two criteria. For example, both the Sundaland Hotspot in Southeast Asia and the Tropical Andes Hotspot in South America have about 15,000 endemic plant species. The loss of vegetation in some hotspots has reached a startling 95 percent.
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Biodiversity Hotspots Defined: Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund
Source and Further Reading