Baseline ecosystem categorization

As with other elements of the methodology, ecosystem categorization relies on publicly-available information. Unfortunately, public biodiversity research is often siloed under one classification schema or another. BCPs should identify their ecosystem classification in as many accepted categorization schemas as possible to extend the depth of public data which can be applied to their site.

For example, biodiversity hotspots contain a high level of endemic species and have undergone greater than 30% destruction which makes them incredibly high-value for immediate protection (Kareiva and Kareiva 2017).

Table 3 shows the accepted ecosystem categorization schemes. A sample categorization for Colombia is provided in Appendix C.

Table 4. Accepted ecosystem categorization schemas




509 ecosystem units

Decline in distribution, decline in composition and structure, restricted geographic distribution, quantitative analysis.

36 recognized hotspots

Two strict criteria: Contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants found nowhere else on Earth (known as "endemic" species). Loss of least 70 percent of primary native vegetation.

Defined according to one of the ecosystem classifications or National Classification Systems, developed by countries

Biome or vegetation Type, climate, biodiversity hotspots (high species richness and endemism), freshwater vs. marine, succession stage (primary / secondary), size and spatial scale (from micro-ecosystems to biomes), functional Roles (carbon sinks, water purification systems, or habitats for endangered species), anthropogenic Influence

8 realms, 14 biomes

Realms (climate), biomes (convergent ecological functions), ecosystem functional groups (contrasting assemblages of species engaged in those functions). Designed for monitoring and reporting on ecosystem status, including the assessment of ecosystem services provided.

20 global ecological zones

Climate (precipitation, temperature, and the length and severity of dry and cold periods), landform, soil, vegetation, water availability, biotic interactions.

38 life zones

Biotemperature, precipitation, potential evapotranspiration (EVP), EVP/P ratio, latitude, and altitude.

14 biomes, 867 ecoregions

Climate (temperature, precipitation, and seasonality), geology and soil type, topography, flora and fauna, natural disturbance regimes, and ecological and evolutionary processes.

Assesses the impacts of forest management on biodiversity intactness across the globe

Describes the average abundance of a taxonomically and ecologically broad set of species in an area, relative to their abundances in an intact reference ecosystem

18 major, 108 minor habitats

Biogeography, latitudinal zonation and depth in marine systems.

8 biogeographic realms, containing 867 smaller ecoregions. Each ecoregion is classified into one of 14 major habitat types, or biomes.

Primarily designed for conservation planning and identifying areas of high biodiversity significance.

2,331 Ramsar sites in May 2018 covering over 2.1 million square kilometres (810,000 sq mi).

Recognizes 12 Marine/Coastal Wetlands, 20 Inland Wetlands, 10 Human-made wetlands. Criteria: Sites containing representative, rare or unique wetland types, sites of international importance for conserving biological diversity (based on species and ecological communities, waterbirds, on fish).

It establishes that certain places on Earth have exceptional universal value.

Sites are chosen that combine the concept of nature conservation with the preservation of cultural sites.

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