Biodiversity Hotspots
 
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Biodiversity Hotspots

Species are the building blocks of Earth's life-support systems. We all depend on them. But our planet’s “biodiversity,” the vast array of life on Earth, faces a crisis of historic proportions. Development, urbanization, pollution, disease — they’re all wreaking havoc on the tree of life. Today, species are going extinct at the fastest rate since the mass extinction of the dinosaurs.

To stem this crisis, we must protect the places where biodiversity lives. But species aren’t evenly distributed around the planet. Certain areas have large numbers of endemic species — those found nowhere else. Many of these are heavily threatened by habitat loss and other human activities. These areas are the biodiversity hotspots, 36 regions where success in conserving species can have an enormous impact in securing our global biodiversity.

The forests and other remnant habitats in hotspots represent just 2.4% of Earth’s land surface. But you’d be hard-pressed to find another 2.4% of the planet that’s more important.

Hotspot Qualifications

Hotspot Qualifications

To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria:

  • It must have at least 1,500 vascular plants as endemics — which is to say, it must have a high percentage of plant life found nowhere else on the planet. A hotspot, in other words, is irreplaceable.
  • It must have 30% or less of its original natural vegetation. In other words, it must be threatened.
Why do Biodiversity Hotspots Matter?

Why do Biodiversity Hotspots Matter?

  • Biodiversity underpins all life on Earth. Without species, there would be no air to breathe, no food to eat, no water to drink. There would be no human society at all. And as the places on Earth where the most biodiversity is under the most threat, hotspots are critical to human survival.
  • The map of hotspots overlaps extraordinarily well with the map of the natural places that most benefit people. That’s because hotspots are among the richest and most important ecosystems in the world — and they are home to many vulnerable populations who are directly dependent on nature to survive. By one estimate, despite comprising 2.4% of Earth’s land surface, forests, wetlands and other ecosystems in hotspots account for 35% of the “ecosystem services” that vulnerable human populations depend on.

Charles Paddock Zoo Hotspots

The Charles Paddock Zoo’s masterplan aims to highlight 5 Biodiversity Hotspots: Madagascar; Indo-Burma; Tropical Andes; West Africa and California. Once this masterplan is completed, visitors will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history and culture of each of these 5 areas of the world, all while observing some of the most amazing wildlife that inhabits these important hotspots.
 

Indo-Burma  Madagascar  The Tropical Andes  California  West Africa

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