Megadiverse Countries is a term used to refer to the world’s top biodiversity-rich countries. This country-focused method raises national awareness for biodiversity conservation in nations with high biological diversity, with many species unique to a specific country. This concept was first proposed in 1988 by Russell Mittermeier.
More About Megadiverse Countries
- The Megadiversity Country concept is based on four premises:
. The biodiversity of each and every nation is critically important to that nation’s survival.
. Biodiversity is by no means evenly distributed on our planet, and some countries, especially in the tropics, harbour far greater concentrations of biodiversity than others.
. Some of the most species rich and biodiverse nations also have ecosystems that are under the most severe threat.
. To achieve maximum impact with limited resources, conservation efforts must concentrate heavily (but not exclusively) on those countries richest in diversity and endemism and most severely threatened.
- The identified Megadiverse Countries are:
. United States of America
. Democratic Republic of Congo
. South Africa
. Papua New Guinea
- Criteria for Classification
The principle criterion is endemism, first at the species level and then at higher taxonomic levels such as genus and family. To qualify as a Megadiverse Country, a country must:
. Have at least 5000 of the world’s plants as endemics
. Have marine ecosystems within its borders
- The focus on endemism is in line with the IUCN’s “doctrine of ultimate responsibility”, which holds that a country with the only populations of an endangered species has ultimate responsibility for ensuring the survival of that particular species. The classification was brought by Conservation International.
- While there is no specific management associated with this concept, 17 countries rich in biological diversity and associated traditional knowledge have formed a group known as the Like Minded Megadiverse Countries. These include 12 of the above identified Megadiverse Countries. This group was formed in 2002 under the Cancun Declaration to act as a mechanism of cooperation on the conservation of biological diversity and traditional knowledge.