Megadiverse Countries

#GS3 #Biodiversity #Environment

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
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Venezuela
  • Brazil
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • South Africa
  • Madagascar
  • India
  • Malaysia
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • Papua New Guinea
  • China
  • Australia


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.
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