Why are biodiversity hotspots important?

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Bild: Colourbox/FAU

IPCC info bites

Biodiversity hotspots are ecologically unique regions that are exceptionally rich in species, and are thus priority targets for nature conservation. There are many definitions of biodiversity. All of them include the variation within and between species and of ecosystems and identify a set of priority areas that cover a small portion of the Earth, but house an exceptionally high proportion of its biodiversity.

Because biodiversity underpins all life on Earth, these hotspots have significant global value as they contain species and habitats that are found nowhere else. Their loss would mean loss of species and habitats that provide wild and farmed food, medicine and other materials and services such as climate regulation, pollination and water purification, all of which maintain the health of the ecosystems we depend upon.

Healthy ecosystems, with flourishing biodiversity in natural conditions, are more resilient to disturbances, whether natural or human in origin. Environmentally sustainable development inside and outside hotspots could help reverse human impacts on biodiversity. The hotspots also capture and store carbon, thereby helping to mitigate climate change. Prioritization of protecting biodiversity in hotspots thus benefits nature conservation and helps mitigate climate change. A global network of protected areas and restoration initiatives inside biodiversity hotspots can also help increase resilience to the effects of climate change on biodiversity.

Can planting a tree tackle climate change?

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Like all living plants, trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis. Restoring and preventing further loss of native forests is therefore essential for combating climate change. It reduces human vulnerability to climate change by providing shade and cooling, reduces air pollution, stores carbon, builds natural systems resilience, prevents erosion and reduces flood risk by slowing water flow and supports biodiversity.

IPCC Report info bites

About the World Climate Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. In their latest report, published in late February, scientists outline the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is taking place. One of the report’s main authors is Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kiessling, head of the Chair of Palaeontology.

Wolfgang Kießling on the World Climate Report