The Mediterranean Basin is one of the world’s richest places in terms of animal and plant diversity. The Mediterranean is particularly noted for the diversity of its plants – about 25,000 species are native to the region, and more than half of these are endemic. This has led to the Mediterranean being recognized as one of the first 25 Global Biodiversity Hotspots. Besides this great richness of plants, a high proportion of Mediterranean animals are unique to the region: 2 out of 3 amphibian species are endemic, as well as half of the crabs and crayfish, 48% of the reptiles, a quarter of mammals, 14% of dragonflies, 6% of sharks and rays and 3% of the birds. The Mediterranean also hosts more than 250 species of endemic freshwater fish. Although the Mediterranean Sea makes up less than 1% of the global ocean surface, up to 18% of the world’s macroscopic marine species are found there, of which 25 to 30% are endemic – an incredibly rich biodiversity for such a small area. The Mediterranean’s importance for wildlife is not limited to the richness or uniqueness of its resident fauna and flora: millions of migratory birds from the far reaches of Europe and Africa use Mediterranean wetlands and other habitats as stopover or breeding sites.
The Mediterranean Species Programme, in close collaboration with IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC), IUCN Members and numerous partners, are driving the fight to conserve biodiversity and ecosystem functioning through many initiatives including:
- IUCN Red List of Mediterranean species
- Assessment of biodiversity status and trends in the Mediterranean region
- Capacity building of key stakeholders to improve conservation of threatened species
- Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas in the Mediterranean region
- Assessing the links and benefices of species conservation and livelihoods