Maps reveal global plant diversity

New maps show distribution of botanic gardens.

Scientists have used a mapping technique to distort the shape of nations and continents based on their plants and botanic gardens. The cartograms, developed by the University of Sheffield’s geography department, show the extent of plant diversity and the global distribution of botanic gardens to pinpoint gaps in conservation. Curator of glasshouses at National Botanic Garden of Belgium Dr Dave Aplin, who collaborated on the project, said: “There is a lot of plant diversity in South America and Africa but few botanic gardens. We wanted to see the imbalance graphically by showing the ratio of native plants to botanic gardens.” On one map, wealthy nations such as the UK, North America, Canada and Australia appear small and squashed compared to the bulbous masses of Asia and Africa. Aplin said: “The UK has a profusion of gardens but relatively low plant diversity. There are 1,000 botanic gardens in Europe but just 20 in Africa.” The cartograms can be viewed at www.worldmapper.org.

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