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A Framework for Improved Monitoring of Biodiversity: Responses to the World Summit on Sustainable Development

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The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) endorsed the Hague Ministerial Declaration that calls for a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional, and national levels by 2010. We argue that there is a shortage of standardized, regularly repeated measurements of the state of biomes and their biota that could be used to monitor progress toward this goal. In particular, there are few data that directly or indirectly measure the delivery of ecosystem services that depend on biodiversity. Given the link made in the declaration between biodiversity and poverty alleviation, this deficiency is of special concern. We suggest that greater attention should be given to defining the questions about changes in biodiversity that are relevant to CBD and WSSD goals and propose a framework through which the links between these questions and programs of monitoring and research could be made stronger and more explicit. The framework consists of three stages. First is a scoping stage in which reviews of existing knowledge and interactions with stakeholders help to define the subject of the evaluation and lead to a preliminary model of the system of interest. Second is a design stage in which the types of measurement and sampling strategies are selected by evaluating their fitness for purpose and the resources available to conduct the work. The final stage is implementation and reporting, which considers data collection and storage and the evaluation and dissemination of results. This framework can be applied across a broad range of biodiversity attributes and scales and, if combined with a systematic review of the most important and relevant questions about changes in biodiversity, would improve the coverage, fitness for purpose, and value for money of biodiversity monitoring. Slowing the rate of loss of biodiversity requires conservation action, but to know where this is most needed and whether it is working requires better and more comprehensive monitoring.
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Keywords: Cumbre Mundial de Desarrollo Sustentable; World Summit on Sustainable Development; assessment; biodiversity measurement; biodiversity monitoring; estimación; evaluación; evaluation; medición de biodiversidad; monitoreo de biodiversidad

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Conservation Biology Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EJ, United Kingdom 2: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom 3: Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, United Kingdom 4: Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom 5: Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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