Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

The 35 Wonders of the World

Photos of the world's biodiversity hotspots by the world's finest nature photographers

 Spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari)
Spotted eagle ray, Aetobatus narinari; © Doug Perrine/NPL

View pictures of the exhibition displays from around the world

Developed in parallel with the publication of the 300th issue of Terre Sauvage magazine, the magazine and partners CEPF and the Nature Picture Library assembled a photographic exhibition featuring beautiful full-color images of life in the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the most biologically rich yet threatened terrestrial ecosystems.

The exhibit is presented in partnership with the League for the Protection of Birds (Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux – LPO), the French Development Agency (l’Agence française de développement) and the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (le Ministère des Affaires Etrangères et Européennes). Visitors to the exhibit who have smart phones or tablets can access the magazine’s related content—in French or English—via scan codes printed on the panels.


 The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and biodiversity hotspots

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) empowers people to be good stewards of the planet, so that they and future generations continue to benefit from its life-sustaining resources, such as biodiversity, clean air, fresh water, a stable climate and healthy soils.

The Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.

The partners believe that civil society is uniquely positioned to protect some of Earth’s most biologically rich yet threatened ecosystems—biodiversity hotspots. CEPF provides grants to nongovernmental and private sector organizations so they can conserve these critical ecosystems. Our grantee partners range from small farming cooperatives and community associations to private sector partners, and national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The investments are even more meaningful because these regions are home to millions of people who are impoverished and highly dependent on natural resources.

Biodiversity hotspots defined

Biodiversity “hotspots” are ecosystems rich in biological diversity and under serious threat. It is urgent to conserve them to protect the planet’s biological diversity. These hotspots hold large numbers of endemic species, or species that are found nowhere else. 

Conservation International (2004) defines a biodiversity hotspot “as an area which contains at least 1,500 endemic species of vascular plants and which has lost at least 70% of its original habitat,” according to Myers et al. 2000. In total, 35 hotspots have been identified, the ecosystems of which represent 1.4% of the planet’s surface but host 44% of plant species and 35% of all vertebrates—thus such areas are among the top priorities for conservation action at the global level. 

The exhibition “35 Wonders of the World” will show you these remarkable regions around the world with the unique species and conservation challenges in each area.

The most recent evaluation of the state of biological diversity shows that the rate of species extinction is higher than ever, between 100 and 1,000 times faster than the natural rate. The consequences of the loss of biodiversity make this issue of primary importance; the need to halt the loss of biological diversity has been reiterated at the international level on a number of occasions: the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg 2002), the 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (Nagoya 2010), adoption of its strategic plan 2011-2020 and the associated 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets most countries have committed to. France is one of the countries raising awareness of this issue at the international level and encouraging commitment. It is also supporting the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund to develop projects that enable civil society to participate in and benefit from the conservation of biodiversity in the 35 biodiversity hotspots around the world.

What is biodiversity?

Biological diversity—or biodiversity—is the term used for all life forms and the natural characteristics that they present. It includes the diversity within each species (each individual differs from the others), between species and between ecosystems. An ecosystem is a set of organisms (plants, animals and micro-organisms) that interact among themselves and with their environment (soil, climate, water, light).

Biodiversity plays a vital role, because it is the basis for the functioning of ecosystems, and therefore for the services which they provide for life on earth (nutrient cycling, primary production, food, natural materials, water quality, energy, pollination, etc.). These “ecological services” are essential for human well-being. Ecosystems also play an important regulatory role with regard to natural disasters, epidemics and climate change. They influence human cultures and spiritual beliefs profoundly.

Protecting biodiversity maintains the capacity of living things to adapt to different environmental situations. The myriad interactions within the living world, which exist thanks to evolution, are the key to the future of the planet, and thus our future. The necessity to conserve these ecological services that people obtain from nature is increasingly understood.

In 1992 at the UN Earth Summit in Rio, all the countries present agreed to make the protection and restoration of biodiversity a priority, as biodiversity is considered one of the principal vital resources of the planet.

Exhibit partners

Terre Sauvage, a leading nature magazine in France, celebrated the publication of its 300th edition (January 2014) by dedicating the edition to the world’s biodiversity hotspots (www.terre-sauvage.com).

Created in 2002, the Nature Picture Library NPL is a specialized photo agency representing photographers of nature and wildlife who are among the best in the world (www.naturepl.fr).

The mission of the LPO is the protection of birds and wildlife for people through projects which increase our knowledge about species and habitats, improve protection, and encourage people to take action. It is the Partner of BirdLife International in France (www.lpo.fr).

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAEDI) develops and applies the French strategies for international aid: health, food security, human development, environment and climate through the work of the Directorate General of Global Affairs, Development and Partnerships (DGM) (www.diplomatie.gouv.fr).

The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has been working for seventy years to fight poverty and foster economic growth in developing countries and the French Overseas Provinces. Its work is based on policy defined by the French Government (www.afd.fr​).

Showings of the exhibit

  • December 2013 - March 2014: French Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs, Paris, France
  • May 2014: 5th Global Environment Facility Meeting, Cancun, Mexico
  • June 2014: U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 5th meeting of the Working Group on the Review of Implementation (WGRI5), Montreal, Canada
  • Oct 2014: U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity 12th meeting of the Conference of Parties, Pyeongchang, South Korea
  • Oct 2014: Centro Cultural Franco-Moçambicano, Mozambique
  • ​November 2014: Papeete, French Polynesia
  • November 2014: Kampala, Uganda​
  • November 2014: Montier Festival Photo; Montier-en-Der, France​
  • November - December 2014: Botanic Garden Sydney, Australia, in conjunction with the World Parks Congress​
  • December 2014​: French Embassy, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • December 2014 - January 2015: Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire