SBA Description Biodiversity

Statement of Need

Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. It can be thought of as having three major levels of organization (the genetic level, the species level, and the ecosystem level), within each of which there are three aspects of diversity: composition; structure and function.

Biodiversity is necessary for the sustained delivery of ecosystem services essential for human well-being, as well as for the maintenance of life on Earth in general. Examples of ecosystem services that fundamentally depend on the existence of adequate biodiversity include food, fibre, freshwater, clean air, the control of pests and diseases and the discovery of novel natural products, such as pharmaceuticals.

If we are to understand biodiversity and its loss, build global, regional and national baselines, make rational management decisions and assess the success of conservation measures, many sources of biodiversity observations must be pooled. Most biodiversity observations are, and will continue to be, made in situ. The sampling strategy must cover all major ecosystems and taxonomic groups, and must address the ecosystem, population, and genetic levels of biological organization.

Integrated biodiversity data are needed for local, national and international policy makers to develop science-based policy, establish priorities in biodiversity action plans and to implement legislation, especially in the context of international conventions. These data will also help researchers in their understanding of biodiversity drivers, pressures, processes, and interactions. Conservation management is aided by a better understanding of biodiversity.

Knowledge of biodiversity is also important for businesses as they work to develop sustainable growth plans. A significant part of the knowledge and understanding of biodiversity is traditional knowledge, held in particular by indigenous peoples. Additional users and beneficiaries of biodiversity information include Non Governmental Organizations, indigenous and local communities, public interest and advocacy groups, as well as the public media.

Vision and How GEOSS will help

The vision is to develop a high quality, timely, and comprehensive global biodiversity observation system that fulfills the data needs of the multilateral environmental agreements, governments, natural resource planners, scientific researchers and civil society, and integrates with ecological, agriculture, health, disaster, and climate monitoring policy.

A GEOSS biodiversity observation system would create a mechanism to integrate biodiversity data with other observations more effectively, leverage investments in local and national research and observation projects and networks for global analysis and modelling. It will build on existing efforts in order to collectively provide essential data and models for monitoring and reporting in the framework of the biodiversity-related conventions, and provide new information and tools for biodiversity research.

For more information regarding this SBA, please consult the “10-Year Implementation Plan Reference Document by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO)”, available at: