We could preserve a sizable chunk of the world’s plant and animal species by protecting a mere 1.4 percent of the earth’s land surface, or 25 biologically rich “hot spots,” says Oxford ecologist Norman Myers. The estimated price tag is $5 billion over 10 years, and efforts are underway to raise the necessary funds. Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson says a campaign to save the hot spots should become a major goal of the conservation community, a challenge on par with the human genome project or the moon landing. This week, World Bank President James Wolfensohn is scheduled to announce a new multimillion-dollar global fund aimed at protecting hot spots. Conservationists are also looking to high-tech billionaires and other wealthy folks to pony up money to save these areas. Meanwhile, scientists say Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is being destroyed at more than twice the rate officially reported.