How On Earth Do We Monitor Biodiversity Efforts?

Puya raimondii, a threatened bromeliad in the high Andes. Photo: Pepe Roque/Wikipedia

Puya raimondii, a threatened bromeliad in the high Andes.
Photo: Pepe Roque/Wikipedia

As mentioned in a previous post, there have been a few large-scale programs set up in the past five years, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and Aichi Targets under the Nagoya Protocol.

Poring over the latter, I was overwhelmed with questions, mainly about how each target’s broad aim would be implemented, monitored, and reported throughout the world.

Luckily, someone – the nonprofit conservation organization NatureServe to be precise – has been tackling this project over the past two years. NatureServe’s Biodiversity Indicators Dashboard, introduced last month but not yet fully operational, will serve to address the following in monitoring and assessing biodiversity (taken directly from NatureServe’s website):

  1. pressures or threats, such as trends in land and water use, habitat loss or invasive species
  2. the state of species and ecosystems, such as the health of species or integrity of ecosystems
  3. the conservation response, such as the protection of important biodiversity areas
  4. benefits to people, such as the ecosystem services that freshwater provides.
Eichhornia crassipes, or water hyacinth, is an invasive species in the region of the African Great Lakes

Eichhornia crassipes, or water hyacinth, is an invasive species in the region of the African Great Lakes

The Dashboard focuses on three biodiversity “hotspots”: the tropical Andes, the Great Lakes of Africa, and the Mekong River Valley. Such aims listed in the Aichi as slowing and halting natural habitat loss, preventing the extinction of threatened species, and the protection of biodiverse areas (all by 2020) will be shown in overall trends and quantitative data in the proposed Dashboard.

One of the targets included in the project touches on a bit of a blindspot in otherwise good-intentioned biodiversity efforts: the benefit to the communities in which environmental programs are being carried out. Tied in with financing issues, the pressure on communities in such biodiversity hotspots to participate in the efforts may prove economically onerous. (Not to mention the issue surrounding who receives the benefit from genome sharing.)

So although the Dashboard’s aims are fairly wide-reaching and lofty, it helps to conceptualize just how the Aichi targets might be achieved. And whether or not these goals will be met by 2020, it’ll be interesting to see whether and how NatureServe’s idea will be embraced by the international community and where it will hopefully go from there.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s