At the beginning of July in Leipzig, several hundred international experts in monitoring biological diversity will advise how the enormous gaps in knowledge about global biodiversity can be closed. Background: The signatories of the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), which includes Germany, have committed to halt the damage to biodiversity by 2020 and to reverse the trend. Without data this internationally binding goal can not be implemented efficiently and still less verified.
The first conference of this kind was initiated by GEO BON, an international organisation which concerns itself with monitoring and collating global biodiversity data. GEO BON’s Secretariat is located at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.
The fact that humans are changing the world and that these changes lead to the extinction of species, is uncontested. What is unclear however is the extent of this loss. Is a global ‘sixth mass extinction’ actually happening? In comparison to climate change, the basis of data for biodiversity loss is astonishingly thin. While for example birds or wolves have been meticulously recorded in Germany, for other groups of animals such as amphibians, there is hardly any data. The lack of knowledge is shown by the fact that every year alone, 18,000 new species are described.
While in Germany the data recorded is relatively high despite a federal structure with different surveys on flora and fauna, in other regions of the world, e.g. East Africa or South East Asia, only little is known about the situation. “We know more about the surface of the moon than about biological diversity in many places in the world”, said Prof. Henrique M. Pereira, professor at iDiv and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg as well as chair of GEO BON.
But data on the state and development of biodiversity is important in order to be able to correct this undesirable development: What impact does interference in the landscape have on biodiversity? Does for example a river restoration increase biodiversity? How efficient are nature conservation measures?
For example: In the past, expensive re-population projects have often had little success while simple hunting bans have proved to be very effective. Politicians and other policy-makers are therefore dependent on reliable data. Germany too, in the UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), has committed to stem the loss of biodiversity by 2020. Whether this internationally binding goal is being realised or not can only be verified by effective monitoring. Therefore in recent months, an indicator system has been developed - with the involvement of iDiv experts - which will be discussed and further developed at the conference.
These so-called EBVs (Essential Biodiversity Variables) are indicators for the state of biodiversity as a whole and a key element on the way to achieving the Aichi biodiversity goals by 2020.
A driving force behind this is GEO BON (‘Group on Earth Observations - Biodiversity Observation Network’). This organisation is responsible for the biological diversity data within the global earth observation GEOSS (‘Global Earth Observation System of Systems’).
Since 2013, the organisation has been managed by an iDiv Secretariat, which is financed by the Federal Republic of Germany. Before, the Secretariat was located in Pretoria and financed by South Africa. GEO BON is supported, amongst others, by its two sponsor organisations: the international biodiversity programme Diversitas and the US space agency NASA.
In order to close the knowledge gap, GEO BON is pursuing several strategies: Firstly, more data should be gathered, above all in parts of the world where little is known about biodiversity. Secondly, such data which is gathered by local and national authorities but not published should be made globally accessible. Thirdly, data and the method in which it is gathered should be standardised in order to merge it and make it comparable. An example of merging data from different sources such as scientists, authorities and volunteers is the ‘Living Atlas - Nature Germany’.
The GEO BON meeting is taking place at the KUBUS Conference Centre at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ (Permoser Str. 15, 04318 Leipzig). Please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can issue your accreditation. We invite you to hold an interview with Prof. Henrique Pereira on the subject of global biodiversity knowledge gaps. Thank you.
Volker Hahn/ Tilo Arnhold
Link to press release and visual material:
GEO BON Open Science Conference & GEO BON All Hands Meeting
July 4-8, 2016 | Leipzig, Germany
Prof. Henrique Miguel Pereira
Chairman GEO BON and head of the research group Biodiversity Conservation at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and Professor of Biodiversity Conservation at the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg
Tel. +49 341 9733137
Dr. Miguel Alejandro Fernández
Postdoc at the research group Biodiversity Conservation at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tel.: +49 341 9733229
as well as
Dr. Volker Hahn / Tilo Arnhold
iDiv Public Relations
Tel.: +49 341 9733 154, -197
Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON)
Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)
Aichy Ziele 2020
About the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv)
iDiv is a central facility of the University of Leipzig within the meaning of Section 92 (1) of the Act on Academic Freedom in Higher Education in Saxony (Sächsisches Hochschulfreiheitsgesetz, SächsHSFG). It is run together with the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Friedrich Schiller University Jena, as well as in cooperation with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ.
The following non-university research institutions are involved as cooperation partners: the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPI BGC), the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (MPI CE), the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI EVA), the Leibniz Institute DSMZ–German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB), the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) and the Leibniz Institute Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz (SMNG). https://www.idiv.de/en.html
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