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Bridging the gap between biodiversity data and policy reporting needs: an essential biodiversity variables perspective
Geijzendorffer, I.; Regan, E.C.; Pereira, H.M.; Brotons, L.; Brummitt, N.; Gavish, Y.; Haase, P.; Martin, C.S.; Mihoub, J.-B.; Secades, C.; Schmeller, D.S.; Stoll, S.; Wetzel, F.T.; Walters, M. (2016). Bridging the gap between biodiversity data and policy reporting needs: an essential biodiversity variables perspective. J. Appl. Ecol. 53(5): 1341-1350.
In: Journal of Applied Ecology. British Ecological Society: Oxford. ISSN 0021-8901, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    Keywords: biodiversity data;Biodiversity indicator partnership;Convention on biological diversity;data mobilization;data sources;indicators;instrument;monitoring;policy;reporting

Authors  Top 
  • Geijzendorffer, I.
  • Regan, E.C.
  • Pereira, H.M.
  • Brotons, L.
  • Brummitt, N.
  • Gavish, Y.
  • Haase, P.
  • Martin, C.S.
  • Mihoub, J.-B.
  • Secades, C.
  • Schmeller, D.S.
  • Stoll, S.
  • Wetzel, F.T.
  • Walters, M.

  • Political commitment and policy instruments to halt biodiversity loss require robust data and a diverse indicator set to monitor and report on biodiversity trends. Gaps in data availability and narrow-based indicator sets are significant information barriers to fulfilling these needs.
  • In this paper, the reporting requirements of seven global or European biodiversity policy instruments were reviewed using the list of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) as an analytical framework. The reporting requirements for the most comprehensive policy instrument, the United Nation's Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020, were compared with the indicator set actually used for its reporting, to identify current information gaps. To explore the extent to which identified gaps could be bridged, the potential contribution of data mobilization, modelling and further processing of existing data was assessed.
  • The information gaps identified demonstrate that decision-makers are currently constrained by the lack of data and indicators on changes in the EBV classes Genetic Composition and, to a lesser extent, Species Populations for which data is most often available. Furthermore, the results show that even when there is a requirement for specific information for reporting, the indicators used may not be able to provide all the information, for example current Convention of Biological Diversity indicators provide relatively little information on changes in the Ecosystem Function and Ecosystem Structure classes. This gap could be partly closed by using existing indicators as proxies, whereas additional indicators may be computed based on available data (e.g. for EBVs in the Ecosystem Structure class). However, for the EBV class Genetic Composition, no immediate improvement based on proxies or existing data seems possible.
  • Synthesis and applications. Using Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) as a tool, theory-driven comparisons could be made between the biodiversity information gaps in reporting and indicator sets. Analytical properties, such as an identification of which data and indicator(s) are relevant per EBV, will need to be addressed before EBVs can actually become operational and facilitate the integration of data flows for monitoring and reporting. In the meantime, a first analysis shows that existing indicators and available data offer considerable potential for bridging the identified information gaps.

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