Come and be part of a global voice for wild plants and fungi
This autumn, help us find the Britain’s most colourful and important fungi – waxcaps.
Plantlife’s Big Give Christmas Challenge 28 Nov- 5 Dec, make a positive impact in protecting remarkable lichens.
Go the extra mile and run wild for Plantlife
Become a Plantlife member today and together we will rebuild a world rich in plants and fungi
Number of IPAs: 18 (and counting)
In Bolivia, 18 Tropical Important Plant Area (TIPAs) have been identified so far. These are all located within the lowland Chiquitano Dry Forest ecoregion which is the first ecoregion to be assessed. Most of the Chiquitano dry forest lies within the eastern lowlands of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with smaller patches extending into western Mato Grosso, Brazil.
Bolivia has a wide variety of ecoregions: from the highland plains in the Andes, dry Andean valleys, the llanos on the slopes of the Andes, and extensive lowland subtropical savannas and Amazon rainforest in the eastern part of the country.
This mosaic of habitats supports a wealth of rare and unique animal and plant species and has resulted in Bolivia being one of the world’s megadiverse countries with 15,345 plant species recorded for the country in the first ever census published in 2014. However, there are still vast areas of Bolivia that have never been surveyed for plant biodiversity, where many species new to science are predicted be discovered. The next ecoregion to be assessed is the Interandean Dry Valley ecoregion of Bolivia.
The Chiquitano ecoregion is severely threatened particularly by conversion of its habitats to intensive soybean and cattle farming, road construction, new settlements of highland people, as well as extensive gas and oil exploration.
The Bolivia TIPAs project is a collaboration between Kew and its Bolivian partner at the Natural History Museum (MHNNKM) and the NGO Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza, both based in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
More than 1,200 useful wild plant species of the Chiquitano ecoregion have been documented and the main centres of diversity of these useful plants identified. These centres have been found to overlap by over 90% with the network of 18 TIPA sites making it even more important to protect the TIPA sites.
The TIPAs work has involved training courses for Bolivian stakeholders as well as establishing community businesses around sustainable harvest, production and sales of Non-Timber Forest Products such as Copaibo oil, Pesoe oil, and Chiquitano almonds. The book “Threatened Plants of lowland Bolivia” has also been launched in March 2020, which has been adopted by the national Bolivian government as the national standard for threatened lowland plants.
Number of IPAs: Currently being identified.
Area: 1.2 million km2
South Africa is currently in the process of identifying and prioritizing Important Plants Areas across the country that require conservation intervention.
South Africa is a picturesque country, with unique landscapes and extraordinary biodiversity expanding over a surface area of 1.2 million km2. Deeply rooted in culture, tradition, and history, the Southernmost country in Africa is uniquely positioned. Flanked between the cold Atlantic Ocean on the west and the warm Indian Ocean on the right, its coastline expands over 3000 km from the border of Namibia on the Northwestern side of the country to Mozambique on the Eastern side.
The unique climate, geography, and topography of the country, coupled with the exceptional biodiversity housed within its borders, makes South Africa, one of the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries. South Africa is home to 3 biodiversity hotspots (the Cape Floristic Region, Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany center of endemism, and the Succulent Karoo biome) and an array of ecosystems.
The country is recognized globally for its high levels of species richness and endemism, with nearly 7% of the world’s plant species, 5% of mammal species, 7% of bird species, and 4% of reptile species. 2% of amphibian species, 1% of freshwater fish species, 25% of cephalopod species, 13% of arachnid species, and 5% of butterfly species occurring within its borders.
South Africa has been listed among the ten countries internationally, with the highest concentration of plant species. Approximately 20,401 plant species have been documented in the country, with 25% listed as taxa of conservation concern.
With such an incredible array of botanical species, South Africa was determined to prioritize plant conservation efforts through the implementation of South Africa’s National Plant Conservation Strategy which aligns with the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.
Many local communities rely heavily on the country’s botanical wealth for their socio-economic well-being, through tangible benefits such as food, medicine, fuel, income, and shelter. The agricultural sector contributes greatly to the country’s economy, with the livelihoods and well-being of more than 70% of rural communities being contingent on crop farming systems. The country’s lively tourism sector is also dependent on key attractions like the Cape floristic region to bring in revenue to the country.
In order to maintain the current plant populations and ensure that future generations are able to benefit from these valuable life-sustaining resources, South Africa remains committed to finding sustainable solutions to preserve the country’s botanical heritage in a manner that still benefits all South Africans.
Drakensberg Mountain viewed from Monks Cave in Giants Castle Game Reserve, South Africa
Barkley East Pass, South Africa
Limpopo Landscape, South Africa
Number of IPAs:43 IPAs
IPA Area:15% of total area of Oman
Oman covers approximately 47,000km2
A network of 43 IPAs have been identified in Oman covering approximately 47,000 Km2 or around 15% of the country’s total area. Over 70% of sites qualify as IPAs by meeting threshold levels of more than one criterion.
For a largely desert country Oman has a surprisingly rich and varied flora. 1400 species have been recorded from the country including 79 endemic species of which 48 have been assessed as globally threatened under IUCN Red List criteria. Several globally unique vegetation types are found here including the fog woodlands of Dhofar and the Juniper woodlands of the Western Hajar. This floristic and vegetation diversity results from factors such as Oman’s topographic heterogeneity and its position at a biogeographic crossroads.
Oman’s IPA programme was developed to provide botanical data to support the countries National Spatial Strategy, a framework for growth and environmental protection over the next twenty years. Particularly important in developing the IPA assessments has been the active fieldwork programme of the Oman Botanic Garden. Over the last decade they have identified 200 newly recorded species and at least 20 species new to science vastly increasing knowledge of the country’s flora.
All IPAs sites experience some degree of threat to their vegetation. Key amongst these include development, breakdown in traditional land management practices, invasive species and climate change.
Amygdalus Arabicus Musandam IPA, Oman
East Qamar IPA, Oman
Euphorbia Catus, Western Qamar IPA, Oman
Number of IPAs:49
Cameroon is situated on the Atlantic coast of West-Central Africa
49 IPAs have been identified in Cameroon. Kew is working in collaboration with the National Herbarium of Cameroon at the Institute of Research in Agronomic Development (IRAD) and the University of Yaoundé I to identify Tropical Important Plant Areas in Cameroon. Recent fieldwork has focused on Central, South and Littoral Regions and has been combined with collecting seed of threatened tree species.
Cameroon is situated on the Atlantic coast of tropical West-Central Africa. It ranges from the lush rainforests of the active volcano, Mt Cameroon (4000 m high) on the coast, parts of it with the highest rainfall in Africa, to the arid sub-Saharan bushland of the extreme north at Lake Chad.
Extra information on IPAs of Cameroon
Cameroon is of major conservation importance, with high levels of biodiversity across multiple taxonomic groups. The current list of plant species exceeds 7,850, but more species are being published every year. This high biodiversity is probably partly due to the varying physical geography and range of habitats that Cameroon has, with the term “Africa in miniature” often applied. It contains coastal mangroves, tropical rainforests, semi-deciduous forests, savanna, sahel, montane cloud forests, alpine vegetation, large rivers, waterfalls and rapids, swamps, and crater lakes.
IPA sites range from large national parks such as Korup, Campo Ma’an, Dja, Bakossi and Mt Cameroon with hundreds of threatened species, to very small sites with just a few key taxa. The IPA sites identified incorporate around 80% of the Red List taxa in 49 sites covering around 5% of the land area. Notable sites with many threatened species but lacking official protection include Mokoko, Ngovayang, Ebo, Mt Elephant and Mt Kupe.
Some IPAs, such as Mt Bamboutos, Mt Elephant and several of the Yaoundé inselberg sites, are so critically threatened that they may not survive much longer, and their endemic species will become globally extinct.
The main threats are expansion of plantations, open-cast mining, hydro-electric dams, unsustainable logging, and above all smallholder agricultural expansion, which often follows other disturbance. Cameroon depends on its natural plant resources. Many of the national dishes derive from indigenous plant species, from ndolé (Vernonia amygdalina) to eru (Gnetum africanum) and egusi (Cucurmeropsis mannii), while fibres and traditional medicines are culturally important and timber from the forests and oil palm are major export earners.
Map of vegetation cover
Bali Ngemba Forest Reserve, Cameroon by Dave Roberts
Pseudohydroseme Araceae, Cameroon by Xander van Der Burgt
Kupe Rock, Cameroon
Cameroon is of major conservation importance
Cameroon is a medium-sized country in tropical West-Central Africa occupying 475,442 km2. It is of major conservation importance, with high levels of remaining biodiversity across multiple taxonomic groups. Cameroon’s flora is incompletely documented but 7850 species were enumerated in the last checklist (Onana, 2011). Many species have subsequently been described and therefore the total is now likely to be higher.
This wealth of diversity is probably partly explained by the widely varying physical geography and range of habitats Cameroon incorporates, with the term “Africa in miniature” often applied. It contains coastal mangroves, tropical rainforests, semi-deciduous forests, savanna, sahel, montane cloud forests, alpine vegetation, large rivers, waterfalls and rapids, swamps and crater lakes. The Cameroon Line of volcanic mountains are the tallest in West or Central Africa and help produce some of the highest rainfall in the world, as well as a wide range of altitudinal zones.
Most of Cameroon fits into the Equatorial climate zone, predominantly Koppen-Geiger types Aw (winter-dry) inland, and type Am (monsoonal) along the 100-200 km wide coastal band and in the far southeast (Beck et al., 2018; Kottek et al., 2006). The coastal band is globally important for its lowland tropical rainforests although these are partially degraded and rapidly disappearing in places.
It can be divided into two ecoregions separated by the Sanaga river: the Cross-Sanaga-Bioko Coastal Forests, which reach north into Nigeria, and the Atlantic Equatorial Coastal Forests which extend southwards into Equatorial Guinea and Gabon (Olson et al., 2001). These zones together form the Congolian Coastal Forests ecoregion in the Global 200 priority classification of Olson and Dinnerstein (2002).
The high mountains of the Cameroon Volcanic line, which bisect these forests and extend to the drier northeast of the country, form the Cameroonian Highlands Forests ecoregion. Most notable of the peaks is Mt Cameroon which rises directly from the Gulf of Guinea coast to over 4000m and has been a focus for western plant collectors since the 19th century.
The Cross-Sanaga-Bioko region which incorporates much of the montane topology as well as lush lowland forest has been reported to have the highest generic and species diversity per degree square in tropical Africa (Barthlott et al. 1996; Degallier et al.,2020).
In the southeast of the country, the sparsely populated South Cameroon Plateau is dominated by semi-deciduous rainforest that appears to be more moderately diverse in plants and is home to most of of the remaining large mammal populations.
Further north, the vegetation transitions through wooded savanna to steppe, interrupted by the unique submontane forests of the Mandara mountains that have been heavily transformed by a long history of high population density and agriculture.
Overall, no less than six of the Global 200 priority ecoregions are represented in Cameroon (Olson and Dinnerstein, 1998, 2002). Cameroon’s forests also cover the transition between two biological realms, the Guinean and Congolian forest regions, while the Cameroon Highlands bring elements from the Afromontane centre of endemism (White, 1983).
Compared to other parts of Africa, such as most West African countries, Cameroon has some large areas of remaining, relatively intact vegetation. However, its forests are rapidly diminishing and certain habitats such as the submontane forests of the Bamenda highlands, have all but disappeared. In the period 2002-2020 Cameroon lost 708,000 ha (3.7%) of rainforest and 1.53 Mha (4.9%) of total tree cover (2001-2020). As a result, 903Mt of CO2e were released (Global Forest Watch, 2021). The annual rate of deforestation doubled from the 2006-2012 period to the 2013-2019 period (Vancutsem et. al 2021). Logging, mining and agro-industry (particularly palm oil) are notable threats but small-scale agriculture probably remains the major driver of forest loss and, consequently, the major threat to plant species.
The Red Data Book of Cameroon (Onana & Cheek, 2011) provisionally assessed 815 plant species as globally threatened and, as of July 2022, 848 Cameroon plant species have been formally placed on the IUCN Red List of globally threatened species (IUCN, 2022), with many other provisionally threatened species awaiting assessment. Cameroon has the highest number of threatened trees in mainland Africa (414 species constituting 21% of its tree flora), and the highest number of documented plant extinctions in mainland tropical Africa (BGCI, 2021; Humphreys et al., 2019).
The existing protected area network, although substantial is largely based on former hunting reserves and the conservation of large mammals. Rare and threatened plants are often little known at these sites, and there is little information or awareness concerning the most important sites for plants or their current state of conservation. Previous publications by scientists at Kew and in Cameroon have focused on checklists for a small number of sites plus a Red Data Book of threatened species covering the whole country. These projects have led now to an effort to demarcate the TIPAs of Cameroon.
The sites proposed as IPAs so far (July 2022) are largely based on criterion A(i) and incorporate around 80% of the Red List taxa in 49 sites covering around 5% of the land area. Sites are included from all geographic regions but the Southwest region is particularly strongly represented due to high phytodiversity and habitat diversity in this area, and high levels of historical recording (Onana, 2015).
Sites range from large national parks such as Korup, Campo Ma’an, Dja, Bakossi and Mt Cameroon with hundreds of threatened species, to very small sites with just a few key taxa. Notable sites with many threatened species but lacking official protection include Mokoko, Ngovayang, Ebo, Mt Elephant and Mt Kupe. Unfortunately, other areas highlighted previously as hotspots, such as Southern Bakundu Forest Reserve, have been so severely degraded that it is unclear if suitable areas remain for inclusion as IPAs. Furthermore, some included IPAs, such as Mt Bamboutos, Mt Elephant and several of the Yaoundé inselberg sites, are so critically threatened that they may not survive much longer and their endemic species may become globally extinct.
Future work will include compiling a list of socially, economically and culturally useful species for assessing sites against IPA criterion B(iii), and mapping threatened habitats to enable assessment against IPA criterion C(iii).
Barthlott, W., Lauer, W. and Placke, A. (1996). Global distribution of species diversity in vascular plants: towards a world map of phytodiversity. Erdkunde, 50: 317–328.
BGCI (2021). State of the World’s Trees. BGCI, Richmond, UK.
Dagallier LMJ, Janssens SB, Dauby G, Blach-Overgaard A, Mackinder BA, Droissart V, Svenning JC, Sosef MSM, Stévart T, Harris DJ, Sonké B, Wieringa JJ, Hardy OJ, Couvreur TLP (2020). Cradles and museums of generic plant diversity across tropical Africa. New Phytol. 2020 Mar;225(5):2196-2213. doi: 10.1111/nph.16293.
Global Forest Watch (2021). World Resources Institute. Accessed 01/11/2021. https://globalforestwatch.org/dashboards/country/C…
Humphreys, A.M., Govaerts, R., Ficinski, S.Z. et al. (2019). Global dataset shows geography and life form predict modern plant extinction and rediscovery. Nat Ecol Evol 3, 1043–1047. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-019-0906-2.
IUCN (2022). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2021-2. https://www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded 20/10/2021.
Olson, D. M., Dinerstein, E., Wikramanayake, E. D., Burgess, N. D., Powell, G. V. N., Underwood, E. C., D’Amico, J. A., Itoua, I., Strand, H. E., Morrison, J. C., Loucks, C. J., Allnutt, T. F., Ricketts, T. H., Kura, Y., Lamoreux, J. F., Wettengel, W. W., Hedao, P., Kassem, K. R. (2001). Terrestrial ecoregions of the world: a new map of life on Earth. Bioscience 51(11):933-938.
Olson, D.P., & Dinerstein, E. (2002). The Global 200: Priority ecoregions for global conservation. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 89, 199-224.
Onana, J.M. (2011). Vascular Plants of Cameroon: Taxonomic Checklist. In: Flore Du Cameroon, Occasional Volume, IRAD-National Herbarium of Cameroon, Yaoundé, 195.
Onana, J.M. & Cheek, M. (2011). Red Data Book: The Flowering Plants of Cameroon IUCN Global Assessments. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Onana, J.M. (2015). The World Flora Online 2020 project: will Cameroon come up to the expectation? Rodriguésia 66(4), 961-972. DOI: 10.1590/2175-7860201566403.
Vancutsem, C., Achart, F., Pekel, J.-F., Vieilledent, G., Carboni, S., Simonetti, D., Gallego, J., Aragao, L.E.O. & Nasi, R. 2021. Long-term (1990–2019) monitoring of forest cover changes in the humid tropics. Science Advances, 7(10). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe1603.
White, F. 1983. The Vegetation of Africa. Paris: UNESCO.
Number of IPAs: 4
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has an active programme to identify IPAs. So far full site assessments for four have been published.
KSA has a relatively rich and diverse flora. So far 2250 plant species have been recorded representing four floristic regions: the Saharo-Sindian; the Somalia-Masai; the Afromontane the Mediterranean. The mixing of these diverse floristic elements reflects the past climatic history of the region with tropical elements migrating through during hotter, wetter periods and temperate elements migrating south during cooler periods – each migration leaving relic populations surviving in climatic refugia such as on mountain tops and cliffs.
This complex history gives rise to the present unique vegetation of the region where savannah-like Acacia woodlands reminiscent of tropical Africa mix with the steppe vegetation reminiscent of the great plateaus of SW and Central Asia and the forests and shrublands of the Mediterranean and where mountain refugia harbour plant relics of these past migration.
The IPAs so far published reflect the great diversity of vegetation and habitats in KSA from ‘Uruq Bani Ma’arid, an iconic hyper-arid sand desert representing the largest sand sea on Earth, the only tropical sand desert in Asia and an ecological refuge for iconic wildlife of the desert. To the Farasan Islands with their mangrove woodlands and the isolated granite domes of Jabal Aja’ and the sandstone canyon of Jabal Qaraqir which provide relatively cool & moist Pleistocene refuge and harbour relict plants of Mediterranean & Irano-Turanian origin.
Schedules of several sites are being prepared including for the deep, dramatic canyon of Wadi Lajb which contains the richest and best-preserved remnant of relict valley forest in Saudi Arabia and the isolated mountains of NW KSA including Jabal al-Lawz range where snow appears regularly and the isolated massifs of the spectacular Jabal ad-Dubbagh range both providing important Pleistocene climatic refugia.
Threats to the plants and vegetation of KSA are intense over-grazing combined with very rapid economic development
Mangrove woodland on Farasan Islands, Saudi Arabia
Tribulusa arabicus in Uruq Bani Ma’rib IPA, Saudi Arabia
Valley forest in Lajib Gorge- an IPA in preparation, Saudi Arabia
Number of IPAs: 26 IPAs
Lebanon hosts a rich variety of wildlife including many rare and endemic plant species. This richness is due to the location of the country, which is at the intersection of different continents. In addition, Lebanon’s mountainous nature forms isolated areas with unique local climates.
Around 2,790 species of vascular plants comprise the Lebanese flora, including approximately 92 national endemic species. Two floristic ensembles are recognised in the country; Mediterranean and Presteppic Mediterranean, they are represented in almost all of their vegetation levels.
A total of 26 IPAs have been defined in Lebanon. Of these, 16 are in the Mount Lebanon range, on west facing slopes and high mountain plateaux. The remaining ten IPAs are found in the Lebanese coast, the Bekaa valley, and the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. The IPAs have been identified based on their richness in plant species as well as the presence of endemic and threatened species.
Endemic and/or threatened species are found in almost every designated IPA and most of them contain more than 10 nationally endemic species. Some sites are exceptionally rich in endemics. They include threatened endemics represented in a single IPA: Vicia canescens Labill (in Mount Makmel IPA), Chaerophyllum aurantiacum Post (Tannourine IPA), Centaurea mouterdii Wagenitz. (Rihane) and Tulipa lownei Baker (Chouf) or within more than one IPA for example: Matthiola crassifolia Boiss. et Gaill., Melissa inodora Boiss., Viola libanotica Bornm. and Iris sofarana Foster. In addition to endemics, the designated IPAs include some species that are at the edge of their distribution range such as Abies cilicica (Antoine & Kotschy) Carr found in Bcharreh-Ehden IPA.
Almost every type of habitat in Lebanon is threatened; urban expansion is invading every mountain, coast, plain, and valley. Examples of IPAs facing anthropomorphic threats include the coast (Beirut–Jiyyeh Coast and Tyre-Naqoura), dry plains (Hermel Plain), wetlands (Aammiq), riparian ecosystems (Wadi Jannah and Nahr Ed-Damour), as well as the mountains and valleys in most of the IPAs of Mount Lebanon. The expansion and intensification of agriculture, deforestation and climate change are also frequent threats to IPAs.
Find Lebanon on pages 53-57
Chouf IPA, Lebanon
Tannourine IPA, Lebanon
Mount Hermon, Lebanon
Number of IPAs: 15 IPAs
Israel covers an area of 20,770 km2
15 IPAs have been identified in Israel of which 7 have a high priority for conservation
Israel is a small country (20,770 sq km) which is about 70% desert but nevertheless very rich in plant diversity. The flora of Israel comprises 2,272 different wild species from 128 families and 775 genera. 414 of these species are threatened (critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable) on a national level and 56 are national endemics. While the number of the Red Plants of Israel is high compared with homologous countries, the number of endemic species is much lower.
The richness of the flora is due to Israel’s geographical position between Africa and Asia, where three phytogeographical regions intersect: the Mediterranean, the Irano-Turanian and the Saharo-Arabian. At this crossroads a wide range of habitats, altitudes and climates are present – where temperate species coexist alongside species from tropical, desert and xero-alpine climates. Steep geomorphological and ecological gradients rise from the sea, range over lush green arboreal mountains and descend to extreme desert around the Dead Sea, the lowest region on earth.
47.8% of the wild plants in the Mediterranean and desert regions are annuals that occupy small niches and are known for their fast speciation rate. Israel’s flora reflects these characteristics. The long co-evolution of the local flora with human culture in the Fertile Crescent yields a rich and diverse annual and antipastoral flora, well adapted to the disturbed habitats associated with human civilization.
The IPA sites encompass the following habitats: Mediterranean maquis (chaparral); Mediterranean-desert transition (for e.g. Hebron IPA); desert shrubland (Har HaNegev); extreme desert oasis (Dead Sea coast); coastal plain (Poleg), including the unique vegetation associated with the sandy habitats on Hamra soil (red sandy loam) and kurkar (calcareous sandstone); sand dunes; coastal seasonal pools; wadi beds; wetlands and swamp (Hula); springs and riparian vegetation and coastal salt marshes (Acre).
Significant species include the Israeli endemics Allium negense, Bufonia ramonensis and Ferula daniniias as well as numerous regional endemic species such as Iris atrofusca, I. vartanii, Mosheovia galilae and Rheum palaestinum.
Habitat fragmentation and urbanisation are the greatest threats to IPAs in Israel.
Find Israel on pages 48-52
Netofa IPA, Israel
Negev IPA, Israel
Gamla Nature Reserve, Israel
Number of IPAs: Not defined yet
Columbia covers 1,141,748km2
Colombia is recognised as one of the world’s megadiverse countries, supporting an incredible variety of life. With over 27,000 described plant species, it ranks second in the world for its floral diversity . This is underpinned by high ecosystem richness, driven by the country’s complex climatic and geological conditions.
Within its 1,141,748 km2 of continental land area, Colombia has an elevation which ranges from sea level to almost 5,800 m, and includes the biodiversity hotspots of the Tropical Andes and Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena. It supports numerous continentally important watersheds which feed the basins of the Amazon, Orinoco, Caribbean, Magdalena-Cauca, and Pacific.
In addition to its incredible biological diversity, Colombia is also rich in cultural diversity. This combination has led to a huge number of plant uses, with the country considered the “cradle of modern ethnobotany”.
A methodology for the identification of Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in Colombia has been published. This draws on global IPA criteria and guidelines, with adjustments to account for the country’s rich diversity and the lack of reliable species distribution data. The identification of TIPAs in Colombia is currently being undertaken through the work of two projects.
The first approach aims to identify potential TIPAs for useful plants – species with reported human uses. Analyses are being undertaken at the national level based on extensive existing plant occurrence records and the Checklist of Useful Plants of Colombia, compiled as part of the Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia Project (UPFC). Concurrently, fieldwork is being undertaken in three pilot study areas. This aims to evaluate how local plant knowledge and use can complement large-scale conservation prioritisation analyses, such as TIPAs identification, to achieve conservation outcomes which are beneficial for people and nature.
The second TIPAs approach in Colombia focuses on the high-elevation páramo ecosystem to identify TIPAs for Espeletia (Asteraceae). This is a genus of plants that contains keystone species endemic to high-elevation mountains of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador but are increasingly threatened by expanding agricultural development and climate change.
Cocora Valley, Columbia
Purace National Natural Park, Columbia
Tatacoa Desert, Columbia
Number of IPAs: 9
Montana is the largest state in the northwest portion of the United States
Montana is the largest state in the northwest portion of the United States and contains much of the northernmost portion of the Rocky Mountains. Approximately the eastern two-thirds of the state is part of the Northern Great Plains, a large area dominated by semi-arid grasslands. Montana is not particularly species-rich because a large portion was covered by ice during the last glacial epoch.
On the other hand, Montana has some of the most extensive and relatively undisturbed landscapes in the country. In addition, small parts of the state support plant communities and species that are peripheral outliers from other parts of the continent such as Arctic-Boreal, Pacific Northwest and Great Basin, that can be important for conservation.
The Montana Native Plant Society (MNPS) began the Important Plant Areas Program in 2008, modelled after the National Audubon’s Important Bird Areas Program. MNPS used the Plant Species of Concern list developed by the Montana Natural Heritage Program that ranked plants by their global and within-state rarity and degree of threats. The first IPA was dedicated in 2010. Since then eight other IPAs have been dedicated with an additional one currently being considered. Nomination guidelines are provided on the MNPS website.
The Pryor Mountains IPA supports numerous species that are common in the arid Great Basin to the south and west. In addition, the Pryors IPA supports five species that are endemic to this area of Montana and adjacent Wyoming.
The Centennial Sandhills IPA contains a large portion of the largest sandhills habitat in the state and supports four species of rare plants that are generally found only in open sand habitats. Both of these IPAs are threatened by off-road vehicle use.
The Pine Butte Peatlands IPA is the largest fen complex in Montana. This IPA supports 13 species of boreal plants that are considered rare in the state, although all are more common to the north. Outside of warming from human-caused climate change, there are few threats because the majority of the IPA is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy.
The Big Sheep Creek Basin IPA encompasses a very diverse landscape in the southwest portion of Montana. It supports 13 species of plants considered rare in Montana, two of which are regional endemics. Threats include mineral extraction, weed invasion, livestock grazing and water diversion.
Photography by: Peter Lesica
Lower Two Calf, Montana by Peter Lesica
Near Gyp Springs, Montana © Peter Lesica
Italian Peaks, Montana © Peter Lesica
We will keep you updated by email about our work, news, campaigning, appeals and ways to get involved. We will never share your details and you can opt out at any time. Read our Privacy Notice.