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The extraordinary floristic diversity in southern Africa is not only one of the region's greatest natural assets, but also one of the botanical wonders of the world. Here, south of the Cunene-Zambezi Rivers, more than 10% of all vascular plants (over 30,000 species), including more than 46% of all succulents, are found on about 2.5% of the world's land surface area. Moreover, at least 60% of these species are strictly confined (endemic) to the region.
It is remarkable that most of southern Africa's endemic plants are concentrated in only a few relatively small and well demarcated areas, known as Regions or Centres of Endemism. Although the existence of these Centres has been known to field botanists for a long time, most of them remain comparatively little known outside scientific circles. Over many years, the authors have carefully documented the diversity of endemic plants and now for the first time, present the results of their efforts to recognize and define areas that warrant status as Centres of Endemism.
Whereas the classification and mapping of southern Africa's vegetation types have been the subject of numerous publications, the classification and mapping of the distribution patterns of the region's plant species (or flora) have been neglected. Regions of Floristic Endemism in Southern Africa brings together, for the first time in one work, all the relevant information on most of the principal Regions and local Centres of Plant Endemism in Southern Africa.