The Mediterranean Basin biodiversity hotspot is the second largest hotspot in the world and the largest of the world’s five Mediterranean-climate regions. The hotspot covers more than 2 million square kilometers and stretches west to east from Portugal to Jordan and north to south from northern Italy to Cape Verde.
It is the third richest hotspot in the world in terms of its plant diversity (Mittermeier et al. 2004). Approximately 30,000 plant species occur, and more than 13,000 species are found nowhere else, or endemic, to the hotspot; yet, many more are being discovered every year (Plantlife International 2010, unpublished report).
Rivaling the natural diversity in the hotspot, the cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic diversity of the region is spectacular. The region contains some of the world’s first and greatest civilizations, the world’s oldest sovereign state and its first constitutional republic with San Marino dating back to 301 A.D.
Many of the ecosystems reached an equilibrium long ago with human activity dominating the landscapes. However, this delicate balance is in a precarious state as many local communities depend on remaining habitats for fresh water, food and a variety of other ecosystem services. CEPF investment in the Mediterranean Basin Hotspot is essential to stem the threats, balance economic development with the needs of natural areas, and conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services in this vast region.
CEPF’s niche will be to work with all actors engaged in conservation and development activities in Mediterranean Basin countries to foster partnerships in priority corridors and sites. Such partnerships will seek to reduce impacts of these developments on natural resources and systems that the large communities are dependent on. In addition, opportunities to increase the benefits and reduce upland shifts in land use by the communities within these landscapes will be explored.