Species at Risk

Trying to get a picture of where and how many species globally are endangered or even at risk of extinction is a difficult undertaking. For 50 years the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) publishes the red list of threatened species. The list is a “comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species and their links to livelihoods”. It contains over 77,000 species of which according to the most recent report more than 22,000 are at risk of extinction. IUCN considers species at risk when they are “critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.
Mapped here is data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of threatened species including endangered and vulnerable species. The main cartogram shows countries resized according to all animal and plant species assessed as being at risk of local extinction. The two smaller cartograms highlight that conservation efforts have very different spatial degrees of severity, which also partly reflects the different geographical distribution of species.

Cartogram of Species at Risk
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Horsetrading: Equine Europe

There is a lot horsetrading going on in Europe. Literally. At the request of the European Commission the World Horse Welfare and Eurogroup for Animals have just published a report titled Removing the Blinkers which looks at the health and welfare of European Equidae in 2015. The report is the first comprehensive documentation of where horses are being kept in Europe, how they are kept, and how they are traded. The following cartogram shows a Europemapper-style cartogram depicting the EU population figures for equidea as stated in the report, using their mean figure (averaging the lowest and highest estimates for the number of horses in each country) which counts a total of just over 7 million horses in the European Union (compared to FAOSTAT estimates of only 4.3 million horses kept as livestock):

Cartogram map of horses in the European Union
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Species of the Greater London National Park

A city becoming a national park? What sounds almost like a contradiction is a very real idea. As the website of the Greater London National Park Campaign explains: “Uniquely combining a biodiverse landscape with nature reserves, parks and gardens, [London] covers an area of over 1,500 km2 and is home to more than 8 million people. Recognised as one of the world’s most important urban habitats, green, blue and open spaces occupy over 60% of London. Over 1,300 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation cover 19% of [London]. Londonwide the capital is home to more than 1,500 species of flowering plants. More than 300 species of bird have been recorded in the city. With over 300 languages spoken, 170 museums, four UNESCO World Heritage Sites and one of Britain’s National Trails the Greater London National Park* is open for you to explore.”
Pioneered by Guerrilla Geographer Dan Raven-Ellison who convinced an ever growing number of people to support him in his endeavour to turn London into the first National Park City. I was amongst those people making a little contribution by mapping out species counts from the database of Greenspace Information for Greater London. The maps were also included in the environment section of the Londonmapper project which I am working on, and they depict the distribution of each species in a cartogram-style map distorting the shapes of the London boroughs according to how many of each species have been sighted in an area. The following maps are from that series (of which I hope to get a few more mapped in future – are there any red squirrels in London?), and especially the hedgehogs came to fame during the launch of the Londonmapper website last year:

Hedgehog
London Species Map: Hedgehogs
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Earthquake risk zones: A people’s perspective

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In a paper for the Journal of Maps published in 2014 I have analysed and visualised data documenting earthquakes that have occurred since 2150 BC. The following map was part of the material supplementing the publication showing the results of the analysis shown on an equal population projection. The gridded cartogram gives every person on the planet an equal amount of space while highlighting the most densely populated spaces in relation to the earthquake risk (calculated via the intensity of earthquakes recorded since 2150 BC). Also shown are the world’s megacities (over 5 million population). The map shows the large populations that make even Nepal (with its almost 28 million people) much more visible than it would be on a conventional map, highlighting why this event turns out to be quite disastrous. The map also shows what the USGS statement above mentions that Nepal is amongst the areas in the region which are far less subject to major earthquakes (as indicated by the yellow to blue shading in the map there):

Map of earthquake risk zones on an equal-population projection
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Download as poster (PDF, 62MB)

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Volcanoes and Human Population

The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile erupted for the first time in more than five decades, which in the global media was covered more for its visual spectacle rather than its perception as a major catastrophe. This can be partly explained with the low threat that Calbuco poses to larger numbers of people. As reported by the BBC, “authorities have declared a red alert and evacuated more than 4,000 people within a 20km (12 mile) radius”. This is a relatively low number as the volcano is situated in a sparsely populated, mountainous area. Natural events usually turn into natural disasters when they happen in more densely populated areas. The following map shows how human settlement patterns and the global distribution of volcanoes correlate by drawing a 100km radius around each of the world’s volcanoes and then projecting this data onto a gridded population cartogram. This equal-population projection results in some of these 100km risk zones around the volcanoes to become hugely visible, because there are large populations living in this area, while other volcanoes and their risk-radius become almost invisible due to the low number of people living there. Very often, these are the decisive differences between a volcanic eruption being a natural event (or even spectacle) and a natural disaster, which these events can become in the red-shaded areas of this map:

Map of volcanic risk zones on an equal-population projection
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Tsunami 2004: Ten years on

On December 26, 2004, at 7:58 am local time an undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 9.1 approximately 160 km west of the shores of Sumatra (Indonesia) and 30 km below the sea surface triggered tsunamis in the Indian Ocean. They hit the coasts of countries East and West of the epicenter, among them Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Myanmar, Malaysia, Bangladesh and reaching as far as Somalia and Tanzania on the African coastline over 6000 km away.
The coastal populations of the affected countries were hit the hardest, suffering deaths, injuries, displacement and the destruction of their livelihoods. Indonesia was affected most, with an estimated number of 170,000 casualties and approximately 500,000 displaced people. The following cartogram shows the distribution of the estimated 230,273 deaths allocated to the country where the deaths occurred, making each country as large as its total share of the people who dies at the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami:

Map of the distribution of people who died in the 2004 Tsunami
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