The Caucasus hotspot, historically interpreted as the area of land between the Black and Caspian seas, covers a total area of 580,000 km. Located at a biological crossroads, species from Central and Northern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa mingles here with endemics found nowhere else.
One of the most biologically rich regions on Earth, the Caucasus is among the planet’s 25 most diverse and endangered hotspots. The Caucasus is one of WWF’s Global 200 ‘ecoregions’ identified as globally outstanding for biodiversity. The Caucasus has also been named a large herbivore hotspot by WWF’s Large Herbivore Initiative. Eleven species of large herbivores, as well as five large carnivores, are found over a relatively small area to be endemic. The 2002 IUCN Red List identifies 50 species of globally threatened animals and one plant in the Caucasus. Among the IUCN species, 18 have restricted ranges or are endemics. The Caucasus Mountains harbor a wealth of highly sought after medical and decorative plants, as well as a vast endemism of plant communities. [pic]
Spanning the borders of six countries, the Caucasus hotspot is a globally significant center of cultural diversity, where a multitude of ethnic groups, languages and religions intermingle over a relatively small area. Close cooperation across borders will be required for conservation of unique and threatened ecosystems, while helping to foster peace and understanding in an ethnically diverse region with a history of contrasting political and religious views. The Caucasus is a hotspot of plant and animal species diversity and endemism important for the conservation of biodiversity on a global scale. High levels of landscape diversity in the Caucasus are largely the result of altitude variability in the region. The unique geology and terrain, consisting of three major mountain chains separated by valleys and plains, permit a variety of different...