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Biodiversity hotspots identify conservation priorities

HOUSTON (Feb.2, 2005) The new book Hotspots Revisited identifies 34 regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planet's most threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians survive within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earth's surface (roughly equivalent to the combined areas of the five largest U.S. states). This habitat originally covered 15.7 percent of the Earth's surface, an area equivalent in size to Russia and Australia combined. The new analysis shows that an estimated 50 percent of all vascular plants and 42 percent of terrestrial vertebrates exist only in these 34 hotspots.

The Madrean Pine-Oak Woodlands, a rugged, mountainous area stretching from Mexico to the Southwestern United States, is one of nine newly identified hotspots. Three other hotspots that extend into U.S. states or territories -- the California Floristic Province, the Caribbean Islands, and Polynesia-Micronesia -- remain under severe threat.

Hotspots Revisited (CEMEX, 2004) contains the results of an in-depth reanalysis of global hotspots, a widely used prioritization strategy for allocating conservation dollars to areas where they can do the most good.

"The biodiversity hotspots are the environmental emergency rooms of our planet. This latest assessment underscores the value of the hotspots concept for defining urgent conservation priorities," said Russell A. Mittermeier, president of Conservation International (CI) and co-editor of the new book. "We must now act decisively to avoid losing these irreplaceable storehouses of Earth's life forms."

Nearly 400 specialists contributed to the four-year-long hotspots reappraisal. Their analysis has resulted in an increase in the number of hotspots from 25 to 34. The East Melanesian Islands Hotspot was added because it had degraded dramatically over the last five years; the Madrean Pine-Oak Woodlands, Japan, Horn of Africa, Irano-Anatolian, Mountains of Central Asia, and Maputaland-Pondol
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Contact: Luba Vangelova
L.Vangelova@conservation.org
202-912-1294
Conservation International
2-Feb-2005


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