No more diverse

Published: Tuesday 30 April 2002

-- Looked at on a geological timescale, the planet's biodiversity has always been faced with threats of one form or another. But, at present, the threat is more pronounced than ever: species loss is said to be 27,000 every year. The main reason behind this loss is degrading natural habitats. An assessment of biodiversity data from 102 countries done by United Nations Environment Programme indicates that in the most densely populated 51 countries (averaging 168 people per square kilometre), 5.1 per cent of bird species and 3.7 per cent of plant species were threatened. On the other hand, in the 51 less populated countries (averaging 22 people per square kilometre), the proportions of threatened species were only half as high at 2.7 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively.

Genetic origins of crops and livestock

1. North America
Cranberry, Jerusalem artichoke, Muscadine grape, Sunflower, Turkey

2. Mexico/Central America
Avocado, Common bean, Grapefruit, Hemp/sisal, Maize/corn, Papaya, Pecan, Sweet potato, Tabasco pepper, Tomato, Vanilla

3. Andes/South America
Cashew, Cayenne, Cocoa, Groundnut/peanut, Lima bean, Manioc, Pepper, Pineapple, Potato, Pumpkin, Quinine, Rubber

4. Mediterranean
Asparagus, Broad bean, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Common grape, Globe artichoke, Lavender, Mint, Oat, Parsnip, Rape, Sugar beet, North Africa, Cattle, Marjoram

5. West Asia
Alfalfa, Barley, Cabbage, Einkorn wheat, Fig, Goat, Hazelnut, Leek, Lentil, Pea, Pig, Plum, Sugar, beet, Sweet cherry, Sugar beat

6. Horn of Africa
Black-eye pea, Bread wheat, Castor bean, Coffee, Cowpea, Date palm, Egyptian cotton, Finger millet, Mustard, Okra, Pearl millet, Short staple cotton, Yarn

7. Central Asia
Almond, Apple, Carrot, Common grape, Cucumber, Flax/linseed, Garlic, Onion, Rhubarb

European Siberian Region
Cattle, Chicory, Gooseberry, Kale, Lettuce, Licorice, Pear, Watercress

8. India/Indo-Malaya
Black pepper, Breadfruit, Cardamom, Chick pea, Chicken, Dwarf wheat, Lime, Mango, Moth bean, Rice, Safflower, Sesame

9. East Asia
Buckwheat, Camphor tree, Chive, Foxtail millet, Ginseng, Lychee, Mulberry, Peach, Radish, Soyabean, Sweet orange, Tea, Turnip, Water chestnut

10. Southeast Asia
Apricot, Banana, Cinnamon and cassia, Clove, Coconut palm, Eggplant, Indian almond, Lemon, Mung bean, Sugar cane, Tangerine

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