For a geographical area, where biodiversity is particularly richand can be characterised by being in a particularly precarious position with regards to conservation, the term biodiversity hotspot has become well established. Hotspots are defined as areas with a high number of endemic plant species which have already lost the major part of their original habitat in the area. The criterium of variety of species and that of endangerment are therefore considered an indicator, derived from the extent of habitat loss. The 34 designated hotspots across the world only cover a total area of 2.3% of the earth’s total land area.
The concept of biodiversity hotspots was developed by the biologists Russell Mettermeier and Norman Myers at the end of the 1980s. The catalyst for defining the concept came from the question and dilamma of which areas held greatest significance in the conservation of species. The aim was to concentrate nature conservation efforts wisely across the world.
In addition to the Mediterranean Basin, the Caucasus is the only other biodiversity hotspot in Europe.
Once the hotspots had been identified different programmes were initiated. In the meantime, the concept of the hotspot has become an integral part of many worldwide institutions, such as the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility. Many NGOs are working to protect the hotspots alongside these institutions. The biodiversity hotspots are situated in the main in socially and economically developing and emerging nations. Therefore, part of the strategy for protecting the biodiversity hotspots is usually gaining logistical and financial support from Western states.