Assessing extinction risk coverage and identifying geographical hotspots to guide conservation action for Colombia's useful plants

Laura Kor, Cristina Lopez-Gallego, Carolina Castellanos-Castro, Mauricio Diazgranados*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Colombia is one of the most biologically and culturally diverse countries in the world, supporting over 7,000 plant species with documented human uses. However, large gaps remain in understanding the country's biodiversity and its role in human welfare. Simultaneously, global conservation strategies increasingly highlight the importance of the protection and sustainable use of socially, economically, and culturally valuable species. Drawing on the Checklist of Useful Plants of Colombia (CUPC), this chapter proposes conservation actions based on: (1) taxonomic gaps in extinction risk assessments and (2) geographic hotspots for native useful plants of Colombia (UPC). We identified 544 species of conservation concern-threatened with extinction and/or endemic to Colombia. However, 45% of native UPC lack extinction risk assessments. The proportion of unassessed species was significantly higher in 13 of the 256 useful plant families. We propose that these families should be prioritised for extinction risk assessments. There were also variations between use categories, with 73% of fuel species assessed compared to 42% of species with environmental uses. Existing records of native UPC were distributed across all major ecosystems in Colombia. Applying three definitions of hotspots and using a regionalised approach that combines habitat and municipality boundaries, we identified 78 units of analysis (89,901 km 2) as hotspots for native UPC. In-situ conservation gaps exist, with 48 hotspots having less than 25% of their land within Colombia's current protected area or Indigenous and Community Conserved Area systems. We discuss how these hotspots can contribute to the identification of Important Plant Areas in Colombia. While prioritisation is required to target limited conservation planning and resources efficiently, stakeholder engagement will be crucial to develop and implement conservation action and sustainable use for the benefit of people and nature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCatalogue of Useful Plants of Colombia
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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