Biodiversity Indicators

Why do we need Biodiversity Indicators?

Biodiversity Indicators are statistical measures of biodiversity which help scientists, managers and politicians understand the condition of biodiversity and the factors that affect it.

When governments adopted the ‘2010 Biodiversity Target’ in 2002, Biodiversity Indicators were developed as a way of measuring progress towards the targets. Standardized measures make it easier to monitor, compare and communicate changes in the health and diversity of nature over time such as changes in the size and distribution of populations of species, habitats and interactions between communities of species and the environment.

The Biodiversity Indicators allow managers and politicians to see if their decisions are conserving biodiversity or leading to its degradation and loss. Without this knowledge it is not possible to know if the actions being taken are working and should continue or if different approaches need to be tried. Therefore Biodiversity Indicators can help to ensure that effort and resources are allocated efficiently and effectively.

Biodiversity Indicators showed that the ‘2010 Biodiversity Target’ was not met and in 2010, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, which includes the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, was adopted in Nagoya, Japan. Achieving these 20 new targets is critical and the Biodiversity Indicators are essential for measuring if our conservation actions are working at both national and global level.

Red List Index

Three examples of global Biodiversity Indicators currently in use include; The IUCN Red List Index, the Living Planet Index and the Global Wild Bird Index. The IUCN Red List Index uses changes in threat categories, such as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable, to measure changes in the overall risk of a group of species becoming extinct. The Living Planet Index and the Global Wild Bird Index are population-based indicators that combine data from individual populations of many species to create a single index. New indicators are being developed that will add more information to the current indexes such as following the commercial demand for species and the spread of invasive species.

The Biodiversity Indicators Partnership

The Biodiversity Indicators Partnership (BIP) brings together a host of international organizations, including IUCN, working on indicator development, to provide the best available information on biodiversity trends to the global community. The main objective of the Partnership is a reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss at the global level, through improved decisions for the conservation of global biodiversity.

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