© Mo Ismael
"Biodiversity hotspots" are Earth’s most biologically rich—yet threatened—terrestrial regions. To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, an area must meet two strict criteria:
- Contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants found nowhere else on Earth (known as "endemic" species).
- Have lost at least 70 percent of its original surface area. Many of the biodiversity hotspots exceed the two criteria.
The Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot was first recognized as globally important for species conservation by Mittermeier et al. (2004) when the global hotspot total was raised from 25 to 34 (now 36), following a reappraisal in light of additional data. One of the results of this reappraisal was to divide the original Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya (EACF) hotspot between two newly defined hotspots—the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot, and the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa biodiversity hotspot. The Eastern Arc Mountains were thus absorbed into a much larger hotspot, while the Coastal Forests hotspot was expanded to Somalia and Mozambique.
The Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot can roughly be divided in five sub-regions: the Arabian Peninsula, the Ethiopian Highlands, the Albertine Rift, the Eastern Arc Mountains, and the Southern Montane Islands.
Current investment (2017-2019) is focused on the two sub-regions of the Albertine Rift and the Eastern Arc Mountains.