A fraction of the earth's surface--1.4 percent--is home to 60 percent of the world's living species. Conservation International has identified these "hotspots" as needing immediate protection in the effort to safeguard the planet's biodiversity. More than just reservoirs of abundant plant and animal life, however, the hotspots are at-risk areas already significantly degraded by humankind. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, these exceedingly important natural areas could be but a memory. But, according to author-biologist Russell Mittermeier, a relatively small amount of capital could help protect a combined area the size of Alaska and have a dramatic effect in conserving biodiversity. Some of these hotspots include the tropical Andes, Central American forests, Southeast Asia and the Philippines, the Cape region of South Africa, and the Mediterranean basin.
As a book, Hotspots is a weighty glimpse at a world in jeopardy. The color photography by the likes of Art Wolfe and others is first-rate--and literally eye opening: a surreal aerial photo of the Betsiboka River in Madagascar, for instance, shows massive erosion that is visible even from outer space. Each of 25 hotspot regions around the world is accompanied by text, scientific charts, maps, and lots of photos depicting both the destruction and the wonders of the natural world.
From Library Journal
This is Volume 2 of a planned three-volume series (Volume 1 was Megadiversity: Earth's Biologically Wealthiest Nations, 1997) jointly produced by the conservation groups Agrupaci"n Sierra Madre and Conservation International and CEMEX (the third largest cement company in the world). The hotspot strategy is a conservation effort that focuses on areas with the greatest concentration of life forms at greatest risk of extinction. (Coauthor Norman Myers, a leading conservationist, first conceived the idea in the late 1980s.) Determined through data analysis by over 100 scientists, the world's 25 hotspots once occupied 11.8 percent of the land surface; now, they constitute only 1.44 percent. Incredibly, this small areaDwhich includes western Ecuador, the tropical Andes, the Guinean forests of West Africa, the Indian Ocean islands, and a large section of the Sierra Nevada and coast of CaliforniaDis home to more than 60 percent of the terrestrial diversity of plants and animals. The first section of this encyclopedia includes various tables charting the diversity of plant and animal life found in each hotspot. Then, a detailed narrative describes the diversity of plant and animal life found in each area and the forces that threaten them. Over 350 stunning photographs by many world-renowned photographers richly enhance this "wake-up call." With an extensive bibliography, this is a good introduction to the concept of hotspot strategy, and any library concerned with conservation and biodiversity issues will want to purchase.DEva Lautemann, Georgia Perimeter Coll., Clarkston
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.