Priority setting is an essential component of biodiversity conservation. Existing methods to identify priority areas for conservation have focused almost entirely on biological factors. We suggest a new relative ranking method for identifying priority conservation areas that integrates both biological and social aspects. It is based on the following criteria: the habitat's status, human population pressure, human efforts to protect habitat, and number of endemic plant and vertebrate species. We used this method to rank 25 hotspots, 17 megadiverse countries, and the hotspots within each megadiverse country. We used consistent, comprehensive, georeferenced, and multiband data sets and analytical remote sensing and geographic information system tools to quantify habitat status, human population pressure, and protection status. The ranking suggests that the Philippines, Atlantic Forest, Mediterranean Basin, Caribbean Islands, Caucasus, and Indo-Burma are the hottest hotspots and that China, the Philippines, and India are the hottest megadiverse countries. The great variation in terms of habitat, protected areas, and population pressure among the hotspots, the megadiverse countries, and the hotspots within the same country suggests the need for hotspot- and country-specific conservation policies. ??2005 Society for Conservation Biology.
Additional publication details
Integrating habitat status, human population pressure, and protection status into biodiversity conservation priority setting