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Press Relases Jan. 20, 2006

Venezuelan Megadiversity Showcased in the Metro of Caracas

Conservation International (CI) and CEMEX Venezuela launch exhibition of more than 80 images

Caracas, Venezuela—On Thursday, January 19, Conservation International (CI) and CEMEX jointly launched a photo exhibit in the Bellas Artes metro station in Caracas, Venezuela. The purpose of the exhibition is to illustrate and educate the public about the rich biodiversity that is found in Venezuela and around the world.

“With this exhibit, we want to educate, entertain and inform visitors,” said Franklin Rojas, executive director of Conservation International (CI)—Venezuela. “The attendees will better understand the link between the environment and human welfare and will discover why Venezuelans have a great responsibility to conserve some of the planet’s most important natural heritage.”

The Guyana Shield, the Tropical Andes, and Caribbean of Venezuela as well as Bolivia, Brazil, China and the Congo are just a few of the places highlighted in the impressive images by recognized photographers such as Farid Ayahach, Haroldo Castro and Juan Carlos López, among others.

The event also will serve to launch Hotspots Revisited: Earth’s Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions, a publication that was possible with the support of CEMEX. This edition updates the list of the Hotspots, the 34 highest priority regions in the world of for conservation.

“Hotspots are the emergency rooms for our planet’s environment,” said Russell A. Mittermeier, president of CI and co-editor of the new book. “This latest study emphasizes the value of the concept of critical areas to define conservation priorities. Now we must act decisively to avoid losing these irreplaceable deposits of terrestrial life forms.”

The Hotspots concentrate 75 percent of the planet’s most threatened mammals, birds and amphibians within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earth’s surface. The new analysis shows that an estimated 50 percent of all plants and 42 percent of all terrestrial vertebrates can be found exclusively in these regions. The Tropical Andes Hotspot, which crosses Venezuela, is one of the particularly important priority areas highlighted in the book due to its 35,000 species of endemic plants. Furthermore, Venezuela as a whole is considered one of the 17 “megadiverse” countries that together house two-thirds of the world’s species.

“At CEMEX, our sustainable development strategy is based on a solid culture of environmental conservation, health and industrial security, which has earned us important national and international recognition and has allowed us to establish our corporate philosophy of living and working in ‘Harmony with Nature’,” explained Enzo Moschella, President of CEMEX Venezuela.

Moschella also announced that CEMEX Venezuela will donate 250 copies of the book to recognized nonprofit environmental organizations as well as to a group of elementary and secondary schools and universities across Venezuela.

The “Megadiverse Venezuela” exhibit will be on display through February 16 and will include guided visits for local students in an effort to raise young people’s awareness of biodiversity conservation. For more information, contact Conservation International at .

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Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, Click here.

CEMEX Venezuela is a building solutions company, and is now Venezuela’s largest manufacturer and distributor of cement, concrete, and aggregates. It has four cement plants located in Pertigalete, Anzoátegui state, Maracaibo, Zulia state, Barquisimeto, Lara state, and in Puerto Ordaz, Bolivar state as well as a cement terminal in Catia La Mar. Furthermore, it owns 30 premixed concrete plants across Venezuela. Beyond our key business in cement and premixed concrete, CEMEX directly employ 2,000 Venezuelans, and support a broad network of indirect jobs from providers to independent construction workers. CEMEX is a growing global building solutions company that provides products of consistently high quality and reliable service to customers and communities in more than 50 countries throughout the world. The company improves the well-being of those it serves through its relentless focus on continuous improvement and efforts to promote a sustainable future. For more information, Click here.

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Maps, photographs, and detailed information about individual hotspots are available on Conservation International’s Hotspots website.

The concept of Hotspots: Two factors determine which areas qualify as hotspots: number of endemic species (those found nowhere else) and degree of threat. Plants are used as a measure of endemism, and each of the hotspots holds at least half a percent of the total diversity of vascular plants as endemics; this translates to 1,500 species of vascular plants found exclusively within its boundaries. Degree of threat is determined by the percentage of remaining habitat, with each hotspot having lost at least 70 percent of its original natural habitat. Some of the hotspots have less than 10 percent of their original natural habitat.

Julian Teixeria


Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) provides a new forum for collaboration between the private sector and the environmental community. Created in partnership with Conservation International (CI) and the Ford Motor Company, CELB operates as a division of CI and is governed by a distinct executive board of leaders from the business and environmental communities-engaging the private sector worldwide in creating solutions to critical global environmental problems in which industry plays a defining role. For further information about CELB, please visit


Katrin Olson
[email protected]

 Photo credits for banner image: (Zebras in Botswana) © CI, Chris Brooks