In 1988, the British ecologist Norman Myers coined the phrase ‘biodiversity hotspot’ as regions that hold disproportionately large amounts of biodiversity and species when compared to other regions. Because life depends on high genetic variability to live,
Myers felt that these biodiversity hotspots should be the focus of preservation efforts. His theories won him the 2007 Time Magazine Hero for the Environment and started a small revolution in how environmental groups approached environmental protection and restoration.
However, generally, since Myers, biodiversity hotspots must satisfy two main criteria:
Biodiversity hotspots are continually and constantly threatened with the possible destruction of plants and animals. Many hotspots like Sundaland Hotspot in Southeast Asia and the Tropical Andes Hotspot in South America have each lost up to 95% of their primary native vegetation.
These biodiversity hotspots, in total, make up only 2.3% of the Earth’s land surface, but they hold 44% of the Earth’s plants and 35% of the animal species. Most of these plants and animals can’t be found anywhere else on Earth due to habitat requirements and the continued eradication by and encroachment of human populations and industrial mining activities.
There are over 30 biodiversity hotspots that are recognized around the world. These hotspots aren’t bound by political borders and are instead divided into the following regions. Each region has an example biodiversity hotspot.
Though all biodiversity hotspots are threatened with complete destruction, there are some that are on the brink of disaster more so than others.
Biodiversity hotspots offer ecological communities brilliantly diverse species. The more species that are sustained, then the more global ecological systems will survive into the future. All biodiversity hotspots, all 36, are faced with near-total destruction.
With the help of specialized environmental organizations and willing national and local governments, communities can protect the varied species of biodiversity hotspots for future generations. Once these biodiversity hotspots are gone, there is no way to regain the genetic and species differences they offered the Earth.
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