Measuring biodiversity for conservation

01 September 2003

Losses of biodiversity have accelerated over the last two centuries as a direct and indirect consequence of human population growth, unsustainable patterns of resource consumption and associated environmental changes. Effective methods of measuring biodiversity, based on sound science, are urgently needed to monitor changes in the state of the living world and to measure progress towards the target, set by the World Summit on Sustainable Development, of achieving ’a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010’. Currently no sound scientific basis exists for assessing global performance against this target.

The report recommends the routine application of a framework, developed for selecting and undertaking appropriate methods for measuring biodiversity. The report also calls for the urgent synthesis of biodiversity information to make scattered data, held globally in museums, libraries and informal records, more readily available and useful. Key gaps in knowledge, revealed by such synthesis, should be addressed by the development of new programmes with realistic goals that can be completed in the next three to seven years.

In May 2003 the Society published a Summary report, which highlighted the key recommendations and conclusions of this report. This was presented at an international meeting, 2010 - The Global Biodiversity Challenge, on 21-23 May. The meeting was convened by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UNEP-United Nations Environment Programme - World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP - WCMC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).