Environment

What Are The Nine Botanical Continents?

The World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions divides the world into nine botanical continents.

The world today has seven continents based on the geographical size. The continents have been categorized according to their size from the smallest to the largest. In the scheme for recording plant distributions, the number increases to nine and the boundaries have been pushed to include some countries and exclude some from the botanical setup. The botanical system has designated codes for these continents from the numbers 1 to 9 for its databases. This system is useful to the international bodies and to botanists worldwide who use it to track the distribution of plants in the world.

1. Europe

Euro pe gets number one code in the botanical set up for recording plant distributions, and it conforms to the geographical definition of Europe. Countries like Cyprus have been left out of Europe 1 despite the fact that they are part of Europe on the political map. Boundaries of the botanical continent Europe 1 to the North West include Iceland and Svalbard, to the south, the Mediterranean Islands are included, While to the East, the boundary has included Eastern European countries and European Russia.

2. Africa

There is little difference between the political map of Africa and the botanical one. The boundaries of the botanical continent have excluded Sinai, which is recognized as part of another botanical continent. There are territories outside the political geography of Africa that the system has included. The Azores archipelago of Portugal which is part of Macaronesia is an example. The Canary Islands to are included here. The islands of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean is the final point to which the boundary stops.

3. Asia Temperate

Asia is widely recognized as the world’s largest continent; the botanical system has taken this into account. This is why Asia has been subdivided into two. The botanical continents of Africa 2 and Europe border Asia Temperate. However, Asia Temperate boundaries end at the Indian sub-continent and the rest of the South East Asian continent which the system has included into the continent Asia Tropical to the south. The rest of continental Russia, China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia and the Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran are found in this botanical continent. The division of Asia into two is to make the process of classification efficient and convenient for scientists to conduct studies.

4. Asia Tropical

Due to revisions, the number of regions are now four; 40 Indian Sub-continent, 41 Indo-China, 42 Malesia, and 43 Papuasia. Initially Asia tropical did not include the region of Malesia and Papuasia, and they were only two; Indian Sub-continent and Indo-China. The region of Papuasia was created by botanists after conducting revisions that facilitated the inclusion of Solomon Islands, the Bismarck Archipelago, and New Guinea Island. The South West Pacific used to be the original place before the botanists conducted a boundary review. The continent separates Asia temperate and Australasia with the boundaries clearly at Indian sub-continent and Indo-china.

5. Australasia

According to WGSRDPD, the botanical continent consists of Australia and New Zealand with the surrounding islands. Other international organizations have included countries like Indonesia and some Pacific islands as well as New Guinea into this continent. However, the continent Australasia separates Asia Tropical from Pacific botanical continents. The country of Australia is the largest of the countries represented in this continent. It is also among the list of the largest countries in the world, coming in at number seven.

6. Pacific

The Pacific islands form this botanical continent which the WGSRDPD has grouped using factors like the presence of similar flora in the Islands. Another factor that is considered is the distance to a large landmass often continental. The boundary has excluded the central Pacific islands like Hawaii which has been included in another continent. Of the islands that make up this continent, the islands of Fiji, Hawaii and New Caledonia are the largest. The Pacific islands are in three different groups; these are Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. Some islands belong to a different botanical continent like Solomon Islands (Asia Tropical 4)

7. Northern America

Just like Asia, the Americas has been divided into two for convenience. The naming is also different from the ones used in the political geography i.e. North America. The WGSRDPD had initially divided Mexico into two with the northern half being included in the continent while leaving out the southern half. This was by the Mesoamerica boundary but it was an unpopular move, and it was contested by botanists from Mexico. This led to the revision that resulted in the inclusion of the whole of Mexico into this continent to join the likes of the USA, Canada, Greenland, and the American territory of Alaska as well as the nearby islands.

8. Southern America

As earlier stated, the division of the Americas by the WGSRDPD into two continents led to the formation of Southern America. This continent has included the countries in Central America together with the traditional countries in South America. There are islands included too, like the Galapagos Islands. The boundaries, especially to the north, has undergone revision with the latest which has seen Mexico being included in Northern America. The continent is bordered by North America to the north, and to the south is Antarctica. To the west is the Pacific continent. The boundaries have excluded the Falkland Islands, which are just off the coast of Argentina but are under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom.

9. Antarctica

The icy continent of Antarctica is also considered to be a botanical continent. The WGSRPDP has included the Falkland Islands, Trista da Cunha, and South Georgia Islands into this continent. The continent is subject to scientific probes from scientists from all over the world with major powers like the US and Russia having significant interests here. Due to the impact of exploitation of natural resources on the botanical species in the continent, there is a treaty in place that has banned the exploration of resources in the continent until 2048.

More in Environment