The earth is a remarkable, exciting place, packed full of animals and plants. It is estimated that the world has 5,400+ mammals, 10.000+ species of birds, 10,000+ reptiles (and growing), 7,300+ amphibians, 950,000+ insects and around 310,000 species of higher plants.
But did you know that most of these can be found in 12 countries? These 12 are the Mega-diverse Nations (1).
Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo (DR Congo), Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru together hold 60-70% of the world’s species.
Many of these nations are home to a host of endemic species – that is, species that occur nowhere else. Australia is home to 210 endemic mammals (5% of the world’s total), 355 endemic birds, 616+ endemic reptiles (nearly 10% of the world’s total reptiles) and 14,458 endemic plants.
Unfortunately, many of these countries are also on the UN list of the worst forest-clearing nations (2).
The worst land-clearing nations on earth are, in order (in bold are the countries that are also the mega-diverse nations):
Brazil, Indonesia, Sudan, Zambia, Mexico, Australia, Congo, Myanmar, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Peru, Cote d’Ivoire, Malaysia, Cameroon, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Angola.
Aussies, unlike most of these countries, we are a developed wealthy economy. Why are we still cutting down forest that is home to a world-class fauna and flora diversity??
(1) Burgman & Lindenmayer “Conservation for the Australian Environment”
(2) United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization 2001, Forest Resources Assessment 2000,
UNFAO. Unfortunately I can’t find any information more recent than this. I have read that Australian rates of deforestation had reduced since this time, but have very recently increased again. Even so, as Australia is 6th on the list of 20, we would have to reduce deforestation greatly to get off this list.