Dying diversity: North profits from destruction of southern hotspots

Published: Monday 30 April 2007

-- Lukewarm spots >> Biodiversity hotspots are regions of significant diversity threatened with destruction through commercial exploitation. There are 34 hotspots in the world, accounting for just 1.4 per cent of the world's land. These regions support 60 per cent of species on earth. A hotspot contains at least 1,500 species of endemic vascular plants

>> The biodiversity hotspots were originally identified by British scientist Norman Myers in two articles in The Environmentalist in 1998 and 1990

Exploited to death >> 70 per cent of the world's species is found in just 12 countries: Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mexico, Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo

>> The global market value of pharmaceuticals derived from genetic resources is between us $75 billion and us $150 billion annually. Annual world wood exports are worth us $97 billion with 3.4 million cubic metre of wood being extracted annually. But few of the resource-rich countries get this money

>> Ecotourism accounts for 4 per cent-22 per cent of the us $55 billion generated by global tourism

>> The Earth's ecosystem services are valued at us $33 trillion per year. Worldwide 2,264 million tonnes of cereals are produced each year, 1,324 million tonnes of sugarcane, 619 million tonnes of milk and 259 million tonnes of meat. About 75 per cent of global food comes from just 12 crops

>> Global fish imports are worth us $35 billion annually. 44 per cent of the world's fish stocks are intensively exploited and 16 per cent is overfished

>> Just 14 mammal and bird species account for 90 per cent of the meat humans eat. 75 per cent of medicines come from herbal, animal or microbiotic origin

>> 40.7 per cent of the world's labour force work in agriculture. But this contributes to just 4 per cent of the combined gdp of all the countries worldwide, whereas industry makes up 32 per cent of the gdp and only employs 20.5 per cent of the world's population

>> Most of the world's food resources are consumed in the North, which has fewer hotspots. In developing countries, average daily consumption is 2,681 kilocalories per capita against 3,380 kilocalories per capita in industrialised countries
Inverse proportion Down to EarthClearly, the countries blessed with biodiverse regions are not benefiting from them. For instance, the us has about 110,000 sq km of biodiverse area but a gdp of us $13 trillion. Africa has 515,000 sq km of biodiverse area yet only a combined gdp of us $1,806.2 billion. Madagascar and Indian Ocean islands are known for biodiversity--with 600,451 sq km. But Madagascar has a gdp of just us $5,033 million. The lesson: the North is exploiting resources of the South

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