Final countdown for biodiversity hotspots
Most of Earth’s biodiversity is found in 36 biodiversity hotspots, yet less than 10% natural intact vegetation remains. We calculated models projecting the future state of most of these hotspots for the year 2050, based on future climatic and agroeconomic pressure. Our models project an increasing demand for agricultural land resulting in the conversion of >50% of remaining natural intact vegetation in about one third of all hotspots, and in 2–6 hotspots resulting from climatic pressure. This confirms that, in the short term, habitat loss is of greater concern than climate change for hotspots and their biodiversity. Hotspots are most severely threatened in tropical Africa and parts of Asia, where demographic pressure and the demand for agricultural land is highest. The speed and magnitude of pristine habitat loss is, according to our models, much greater than previously shown when combining both scenarios on future climatic and agroeconomic pressure.