Hotspots and coldspots - Vervet Monkeys and their Conservation

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Hotspots and coldspots

Conservation priorities
"hotspots" and "coldspots"

A major hindrance to conservation efforts is the issue of  resource allocation and funding. There is an ever-extending list of conservation concerns and budgets are finite.  The question at the forefront of conservarion planning is this - how much can be protected at the least cost. A systematic approach is to concentrate on the areas where the need is greatest and where the payoff would  be greatest. Threats, cost, and oppurtunities must be incorporated into conservation priorities. One approach to these budget restrictons  is to identify biodiversity 'hotspots' and concentrate on those areas.

A biodiversity hotspot is an area that features exceptional levels of endemic species along with exceptional habitat loss. There are different kinds of hotspot. Some feature richness of rare or taxonomically unusual species, others concentrate on populations or ecological proccesses, but more often than not, species are recognised as the most promonent form of biodiversity. To qualify as a hotspot, a region must meet two criteria: it must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants as endemics; and it must have lost at least 70% of its original habitat. 34 biodiversity hotspots have been identified.

This strategy would make perfect sense if the exclusive goal of conservation was to conserve as many speceis as possible in the smallest possibe area. But what about the biodiversity "Coldspots"? There is a broader range of objectives to consider such as maintaining functioning ecosystems throughout the world, protecting as many lineages as possible for future evolutionary breakthroughs, and (not to be undervalued) preserving natural landscapes that humans find both aesthetically pleasing and inspirational. If we base conservation efforts on the number of species that are protected, there is a risk of losing major ecosystems because they do not contain a large number of species. It would also be a shame for conservation to become a purely financial endeavour. Natural landscapes and ecosystems have their own intrinsic value that surely cannot be measured by how much you can get back for your currency.

Image downloaded from Conservation International website

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