Have you ever imagined what a map of the Earth would look like using natural rather than political boundaries?
This map below offers a depiction of the 846 ecoregions that represent our living planet. Ecoregions are ecosystems of regional extent. These are color coded on this map to highlight their distribution and the biological diversity they represent. This new map is based on recent advances in biogeography – the science concerning the distribution of plants and animals. The original ecoregions map has been widely used since its introduction in 2001, underpinning the most recent analyses of the effects of global climate change on nature by ecologists to the distribution of the world’s beetles to modern conservation planning. In the same vein, our updated ecoregions can now be used to chart progress towards achieving the visionary goal of Nature Needs Half, to protect half of all the land on Earth to save a living terrestrial biosphere.
A biome is a community of plants and animals living together in a certain kind of climate.
There are 14 terrestrial biomes. Seven are forested and 7 are not forested. Plant communities in the same biome can appear quite similar in structure but contain very different sets of species. To better illustrate, click on the feature that depicts the eight biogeographic realms. An ecoregion in eastern Peru (Neotropical realm) could look very similar to one in lowland Borneo (Indo-Malayan realm), but the plants and animals would be different.
How can we save life on Earth? It happens within each community, ecoregion, and country as we choose to leave room for nature to thrive. This map charts our progress.
Scientists now believe that to avoid the worst of the current extinction crisis and to keep temperature rise below 2°C and also avoid negative biospheric feedbacks, as much as 50% of the land and seas must be kept natural. To this end, we can convert the ecoregions map into a tool for measuring our progress towards the goal of half-protected where lands could be under various forms of conservation management and ownership, from a government to indigenous peoples’ or privately-held lands. The map presented here intersects the amount of habitat now protected and the amount of unprotected habitat remaining that could be brought under conservation.