Overview of recent land cover changes in the biodiversity hotspots

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Xiangping Hu, Bo Huang, Francesca Verones, Otavio Cavalett, Francesco Cherubini


Biodiversity hotspots are the most biologically rich, yet threatened, terrestrial regions. From 1992 to 2015, they underwent 148 Mha of land cover changes, including forest losses (56 Mha, of which 40 Mha caused by agricultural expansion), declines of shrubland or savannah (23 Mha), and urbanization (10 Mha). The three largest losses in forest areas occurred in Sundaland, Indo-Burma, and Mesoamerica, accounting for 11 Mha, 6 Mha, and 5 Mha, respectively. This corresponds to a relative loss of 13%, 6%, and 7%, respectively, of the forest area originally present in 1992. Forest losses are also observed inside protected areas within the biodiversity hotspots. About 4.5 Mha of forests were lost between 2000 and 2015, and around 1 Mha of losses happened in the relatively recent past (between 2010 and 2015). Stricter and more effective land-based policies are needed to preserve threatened ecosystems and prevent risks of massive species extinction.




Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources and Conservation, Natural Resources Management and Policy, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Sustainability


agriculture, biodiversity, biodiversity hotspot, forest, land cover change, land use, nature conservation


Published: 2020-07-26 21:25


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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All data processed in the paper are available in the figures and Supplementary Material

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