Figure 1: Our Biosphere
Life is an integral part of the Earth system. Living things influence the composition of the atmosphere by "inhaling" and "exhaling" carbon dioxide and oxygen. They play a part in the water cycle by pulling water from the soil and the air, and they help put it back again by exhaling water vapor and aerating the soil so rain can soak into the ground. They regulate ocean chemistry by taking carbon out of the atmosphere. Earth would not be the planet that it is without its biosphere, the sum of its life.
Source: NASA Earth Observatory
Figure 2: Biodiversity Hotspots
The biodiversity hotspots hold especially high numbers of endemic species, yet their combined area of remaining habitat covers only 2.3 percent of the Earth's land surface. Each hotspot faces extreme threats and has already lost at least 70 percent of its original natural vegetation. Over 50 percent of the world's plant species and 42 percent of all terrestrial vertebrate species are endemic to the 34 biodiversity hotspots.
Source: Conservation International
Figure 3: World Protected Areas
Protected areas or natural parks are locations which receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological and/or cultural values.
Source: Protected Planet
Figure 4: Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho, Porte Alegre
Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho in Porto Alegre, Brazil, is a stunning example of a natural urban ecolink. When this tree-lined street was threatened by development, local residents and environmental groups mobilized to protect it. In June 2012, Porto Alegre passed a law protecting this and more than 70 other "green tunnels" in the city.
Source: Adalberto Cavalcanti Adreani (Picture)
Figure 5: Global Species Richness
Centers of richness for mammals, amphibians and birds listed with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Source: IUCN & PNAS
Figure 6: Stockholm
Stockholm, the most populous city in Scandinavia, comprises 216 square kilometres and includes 160 kilometres of waterfront and 14 islands. More than 14 percent of the city consists of aquatic environments. Among terrestrial environments, lush parks and residential areas with old, densely vegetated gardens complement protected areas and remnant patches of trees and grassland. Although the twentieth century saw a significant homogenization of Stockholm's hinterlands, the city still supports a rich and diverse flora and fauna. More than 1,000 species of vascular plants have been recorded. Of 69 species of mammals known to breed in Sweden, 43 reproduce in or near Stockholm, including, somewhat controversially, wolves (Canis lupus) only a few tens of kilometers from the city. This rich biodiversity can be attributed in part to the city's radial layout of infrastructure, which has left several green wedges connecting Stockholm to its hinterlands, and to a history of environmental efforts that date to the late 1800s. More than 40 percent of the city's land area still consists of green spaces.
Photo: Digital Globe / Google Earth (Picture)
Figure 7: Population growth and biodiversity hotspots
The map shows the world's biodiversity hotspots, i.e. areas with extremely rich biodiversity that have lost 70 percent of their natural habitats, and the areas expected to have the largest populations by 2020.
Source: Conservation International & UN