Tropical Biodiversity: A Wealth of Life

In a study, a single hectare (100 metres X 100 metres) in the tropical rainforest of Brazil yielded 450 species of tree.

The tropics are home to "biodiversity hotspots" in which we find :

of vascular plant species

35% of vertebrates species

in less than 1.5% of the earth's land.

A single rainforest reserve in Peru is home to more species of birds than are found in the entire United States.

The number of species of fish in the Amazon exceeds the number found in the entire Atlantic Ocean.

One single tree in Peru was found to harbor 43 different species of ant.

The Economic Value of Nature

Tropical forests provide a host of ecosystem services, including protecting watersheds from erosion and evaporation, nutrient cycling and providing habitat for species critical for pollination of crops.

Forests produce clouds and rainfall through evapotranspiration, a process essential for agriculture. The Amazon rainforest, for example, is responsible for rainfall on an intercontinental scale.

$33 trillion

A famous study published in Nature in 1997 estimated the value of ecosystem services worldwide at $33 trillion per year; higher than world GDP at $27 trillion (both figures in 1994 dollars).

Over 75%

of the world’s drinking water comes from forested areas.

One quarter

Existing forests and their soils absorb one quarter of all carbon emissions.

Over 20%

More than 20 percent of all oxygen in the atmosphere is produced in the Amazon Rainforest.

Forests in Peril

Over 6 millionhectares of old growth forest are lost each year around the world.An area larger than the state of West Virginia.

Most forest losshas occurred since the1950's

Everysecondone and a half acres of rainforest are lost.

Oceans under siege

70% of coral reefsare threatened or destroyed

Over 70%of the world's fish stocks are either fully exploited or depleted.

Money and conservation


An effective global systemof nature reserves would cost about 2%of the annual expenditure on environmentally harmful subsidies

US$45 billionin protected areas

That's an extremely goodbenefit-cost ratio of 100:1!

could protect natural services worth someUS$5 trillion.

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