By Eric Dinerstein, David M. Olson, Douglas J. Graham
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Extra info for A conservation assessment of the terrestrial ecoregions of Latin America and the Caribbean
Ecological processes fluctuate naturally throughout largely contiguous natural habitats. The criteria for classifying ecoregions were tailored to reflect biological and ecological differences among METs. To produce the snapshot assessment, we relied upon regional experts at the BSP workshop (BSP/CI/TNC/WRI/WWF 1995), the mangrove workshop, the WWF LAC program biogeographic priorities workshop (Wood and Cornelius 1994), the World Bank, and elsewhere to assess the landscape-level criteria. Where data were up to date, we used overlays of remaining vegetation to assess landscape-level features for forested MHTs.
Goal 1 Representation Maintaining representation is critical to conserving ecosystem and habitat diversity. Also, conservation biologists are in virtual consensus that conservation of representative examples of the most diverse array of natural habitats in a region is the most costeffective way to prevent species extinction. Previous efforts at priority-setting that were largely determined by species lists fail to capture the diversity of ecosystems and the biota they contain, to the detriment of xeric and non-forested formations in particular (Scott et al.
Degradation, indicated by these landscape features, would have major impacts on regional biodiversity conservation because extensive loss of original habitat and large blocks of natural habitats is essentially irreversible. With few exceptionssuch as some mangrove units and some savannasrestoration of converted or highly degraded habitats is too slow and costly to be an effective conservation tool. Thus, achieving Goal 4 depends on sufficiently large, relatively intact units that still function naturally.