Addressing biodiversity loss requires knowledge about biodiversity, assessments of the effectiveness of policy and management decisions – usually through adaptive management – and decision making in accordance with the national biodiversity strategy, relevant biodiversity targets and other sustainable development objectives. Due to the complexity of biodiversity, incomplete taxonomic knowledge and high cost of biodiversity assessments and monitoring programmes, monitoring will typically rely on a small number of indicators, for which data are available.
Biodiversity indicators are information tools, summarizing data on complex environmental issues to indicate the overall status and trends of biodiversity. They can be used to assess national performance and to signal key issues to be addressed through policy interventions and other actions. The development of indicators is, therefore, important for monitoring the status and trends of biological diversity and, in turn, feeding back information on ways to continually improve the effectiveness of biodiversity management programmes.
Biodiversity indicators, when used to assess national or global trends, build a bridge between the fields of policy-making and science. Policy makers set the targets and measurable objectives, while scientists determine relevant variables of biodiversity, monitor current state and develop models to make projections of future biodiversity status. Once they are selected, indicators give direction to monitoring and research programmes.
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