Biodiversity Hotspots

Conservation International’s biodiversity hotspots—defined regions around the world where biodiversity conservation is most urgent because of high levels of endemism and human threat

  • Source: CI/CEPF

First defined in 1988 by scientist Norman Myers, biodiversity hotspots are areas characterized by high levels of endemic plants coupled with significant habitat loss. Specifically, a region must meet the following criteria to achieve the hotspot classification formulated by Conservation International (CI): (1) at least 1,500 species of vascular plants (>0.5% of the world’s total) are endemic; and (2) at least 70% of the original natural vegetation has been lost. When Myers first defined the term, he identified 10 tropical forest hotspots. The need to pinpoint priority conservation regions led CI to adopt the term and reassess the hotspot concept. In this process, CI introduced quantitative thresholds (see above) and added additional regions. At that time, there were 25 hotspots. Because of the constant change in environmental threats and the improved understanding of biodiversity, CI has since revisited the hotspots to refine boundaries, update information, and add new regions to create this global data set. This process produced an additional 10 hotspots, bringing the total to 35. Resource Watch shows only a subset of the data set. For access to the full data set and additional information, see the Learn More link.

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Formal name

Hotspots Revisited, 2011


This layer only displays the land-based portion of biodiversity hotspots, although some hotspots extend offshore.

Suggested citation

Conservation International and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. 2016. "Biodiversity Hotspots." Accessible from Accessed through Resource Watch, date.


Conservation International Foundation (CI)
Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)

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