Blog Connections

Centres of Plant Diversity

In its evaluations, IUCN over the past years has shown a tendency to refer to a site’s inscription on another list or similar accolade to substantiate its importance. As they say in their 2023 update to the WHC:  “systems such as WWF’s Global 200 Priority Ecoregions, Conservation International’s Biodiversity Hotspots and High Biodiversity Wilderness Areas, Birdlife International’s Endemic Bird Areas, and IUCN/WWF Centres of Plant Diversity, provide useful Guidance”. For floral sites, the go-to-list is ‘Centre of Plant Diversity’. As plants are underrepresented anyway among the connections, I created a new one around these Centres.

What are Centres of Plant Diversity?

Centres of Plant Diversity (CPD) are regions of the world that hold a significant number of plant species and/or have a high number of endemic species. The criteria used are: “Most mainland sites have in excess of 1000 vascular plant species, of which at least 10% are endemic, including some that are termed ‘strict endemics’- those endemic to the site. Island sites typically have fewer species, but a higher percentage of these are endemic.” (source)

They were defined in collaboration between the WWF and IUCN and published in a three-volume publication (1994-1997). They are not being further updated. I’ve found it impossible to find a full list of them, but apparently, there are 234 (there may be global and regional ones, it’s unclear). No form of special protection or management seems to be attached to the label.

Connected Sites

I found the following connected sites by doing searches on the UNESCO WH website, the UNEP-WCMC datasheets and in the evaluation files of sites we have put in the category ‘Wildlife habitat – Flora’.

  • Agastyamalai and Nilgiri Hills (these may be 2 separate CPD’s): Western Ghats
  • Afroalpine: Simien Mountains, Bale Mountains
  • Altoandina: Los Alerces, Los Glaciares (photo 3).
  • Blue and John Crow Mountains (name unsure): Blue and John Crow Mountains
  • Cape Floral: Cape Floral Region Protected Areas (photo 1)
  • Chiribiquete-Araracuara-Cahuinari Region: Chiribiquete
  • Drakensberg: Maloti-Drakensberg Park
  • Kinabalu (name unsure): Kinabalu Park
  • La Réunion: Pitons of Reunion (photo 2)
  • NZSAI and Macquarie Island: New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, Macquarie Island
  • Primorye: Central Sikhote-Alin
  • Shennongjia: Hubei Shennongjia
  • Socotra: Socotra Archipelago
  • Valley of Flowers: Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers NP

Central Amazon Conservation Complex, Manu National Park, Mount Kenya, Lagoons of New Caledonia, and the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan are also part of a CPD, but it is unknown which one.

Do you know more about Centres of Plant Diversity? Or have you come across additional WHS that can be added to this connection?

Els - 17 March 2024

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J. Stevens 25 March 2024

I had already written down Kaeng Krachan Forest as a Centre of Plant Diversity, when I read the files on that WHS.