A study co-authored by the JRC published today in Science advocates a global, harmonised observation system for delivering regular and timely data on biodiversity change. It discusses a basis for worldwide monitoring to support the implementation of agreed international biodiversity goals, i.e. to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss and to prevent dangerous changes in biodiversity.
The article in Science's Policy Forum presents the Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) discussed by the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) to support the Aichi Targets for 2020 by Parties to the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) are key to establishing a global system to inform scientists and policy-makers. EBVs will help observation communities harmonise their monitoring activities. They help prioritise by defining a minimum set of essential measurements to capture major dimensions of biodiversity change, complementary to one another and to other environmental change observation initiatives. They also facilitate data integration by providing an intermediate abstraction layer between primary observations and indicators.
EBVs were defined as a measurement required for studying, reporting, and managing biodiversity change. Because hundreds of variables can potentially fit this definition, a process is applied to identify those that are most essential. Dozens of biodiversity variables were screened to identify those that fulfil criteria such as scalability, temporal sensitivity, feasibility, and relevance. These variables were scored for importance, checked for redundancy, and organised into six classes that are general enough for use across biological groups and terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms.
The paper is the outcome of a workshop convened by the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) which was hosted by the European Space Agency, on 27-29 February 2012 in Frascati, Italy.