The World’s Most Important Places

Species Density

According to a new paper, we aren’t protecting enough of them. Jason Koebler summarizes key points:

In 2010, the Convention on Biological Diversity (an international treaty with 193 member countries–the US signed but never ratified the treaty, shocker) set a goal to protect 17 percent of Earth’s most biodiverse land by 2020. By doing that, they argued, we’re be protecting roughly 60 percent of all of the planet’s plant species. …

If we’re looking only at the numbers, Earth as a whole isn’t too far off from meeting that 17 percent goal. The only problem, according to the authors, is we’re protecting the wrong areas (if we’re looking to preserve biodiversity). As of 2009, about 13 percent of all of Earth’s land was protected in some way. But a lot of that land is not terribly important, biodiversity-wise.

The above map shows where we should be focusing:

Plant species aren’t haphazardly distributed across the planet. Certain areas, including Central America, the Caribbean, the Northern Andes, and regions in Africa and Asia, have much higher concentrations of endemic species, that is, those which are found nowhere else.