9/10th of the original vegetation in the 4 shared/ biodiversity hotspots of the region comprising India and her neighboring countries have been replaced or lost forever. The one near the Indo-Myanmar border, called the Indo-Burma hotspot, is the most hit, losing 95% of its cover.
Biodiversity hotspots refer to a biogeographical region of significant biodiversity that is threatened with destruction. There are 36 such areas around the world covering 2.3% of the total land area of the Planet. These areas have lost a combined 70% of their original habitat.
These figures of the loss of biodiversity hotspots were first highlighted by CSE, the Centre for Science and Environment, in their report released last week on World Environment Day.
The CSE noted that the original area of the biodiversity hotspots is reduced to a tenth of its original area and around 25 species of indigenous plants are now extinct in areas covering south and south-east Asia.
The Indo-Burma area covers the entire North-East part of India except the state of Assam, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, southern China, Cambodia, and Laos. The second three biodiversity hotspots are the Himalayas, comprising the Indian Himalayan region plus the region falling in neighboring Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, and China.
The third biodiversity hotspot consists of the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka, while the fourth is known as Sundaland comprising the Nicobar Islands group, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Brunei.
Only A Tenth Of The Original Biodiversity Hotspots Remain
Of the total original area of 2,373,057 square kilometers, only 118,653 square kilometers remain of the Indo-Burma hotspot. Of the Sundaland hotspot, only 100,570 of the original 1,501,063 square kilometers remain. The Himalaya hotspot retains only 185,427 of its 741,706 square kilometers and the Western Ghats retain only 43,611 of its original 189,611 square kilometers.
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42% of every terrestrial vertebra and half of all the plant species are common to these biodiversity hotspots. 12% of the 1,212 species of animals in India are endangered and in the Red List monitor of the IUCN.
In a related development, there has also been a significant increase in forest fires in the drier states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Uttarakhand.