Global 200 Ecoregions
Large-scale priority ecoregions for the conservation of the most outstanding and representative of the world’s habitats
A set of ecoregions whose conservation would achieve the goal of saving a broad diversity of the Earth’s ecosystems and ecological processes. These ecoregions include those with exceptional levels of biodiversity, such as high species richness or endemism, or those with unusual ecological or evolutionary phenomena.1 A total of 238 Global 200 ecoregions have been identified so far of which 142 (60%) are terrestrial, 53 (22%) are freshwater, and 43 (18%) are marine.2
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
Year of creation
Global in extent, with 238 identified regional-scale areas.2
Ecoregions are relatively large units of land containing a distinct assemblage of natural communities and species, with boundaries that approximate the original extent of natural communities prior to major land-use change. These were first classified according to realm (terrestrial, freshwater and marine), biogeographic realm (e.g. Australasia, Oceania) and major habitat type. Within each biogeographical realm, a set of ecoregions with the greatest biological distinctiveness were chosen based on the following parameters:1
- Species richness
- Taxonomic uniqueness (e.g., unique genera or families, relict taxa or communities, primitive lineages)
- Unusual ecological or evolutionary phenomena (e.g., intact large vertebrate faunas or migrations, extraordinary adaptive radiations)
- Global rarity of major habitat type
Global 200 ecoregions are not formally recognised or managed areas, but rather a way of directing conservation efforts for better coverage of the Earth’s biodiversity. Nonetheless, the aim of directing conservation effort and investment toward these areas means that formal protection and management may be present within these ecoregions.
Legal and compliance: The identification of an area as a Global 200 Ecoregion does not afford the area any legal protection. Legal protection and/or compliance requirements may exist within parts of these areas where there is overlap with other areas of biodiversity importance, such as legally protected areas.
Biodiversity: Global 200 ecoregion are designations to indicate areas of high biodiversity importance based on the criteria of high irreplaceability of species and habitats within large geographic regions. It is a regional-scale prioritisation approach to assist in conservation efforts world-wide. More detailed assessments are needed to locate the actual distribution of biodiversity within them for any site-scale decision making.
Socio-cultural values: The criteria for identification of Global 200 Ecoregions do not explicitly mention any socio-cultural aspects. However, like other global scale prioritisation approaches, due their large size, people are likely to be involved in use, protection and/or management within parts of these areas.
- Olson, D.M. and Dinerstein, E. (1998) The Global 200: A Representation Approach to Conserving the Earth’s Most Biologically Valuable Ecoregions. Conservation Biology 12: 502 – 515
- David M. Olson and Eric Dinerstein. 2002. The Global 200: Priority Ecoregions for Global Conservation. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 89(2): 199-224
- Olson D.M. et al. 2001. Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World: a New Map of Life on Earth. BioScience 51:11, 933-938
- List of the Global 200 Ecoregions
- Overview and access to relevant publications provided on WWF website
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