GEO BON and it contribution to global observations for biodiversity

Authors and Affiliations: 

Rob H.G. Jongman, Alterra, Wageningen UR


The accelerating loss of biodiversity, the degradation of ecosystem services and biological resources and the failure to meet the 2010 biodiversity targets are major societal and scientific challenges. Addressing them and providing knowledge to inform policy making requires a coherent observation framework, with standards in species and ecosystem nomenclature, coordinated strategies of data collection and management at the relevant scales for key biodiversity issues. Despite major investments in biodiversity data collection, such a framework is still largely lacking, which hampers the identification of trends in biodiversity change and the analysis of drivers and pressures. Thus, the networking of biodiversity observations and observatories and the integrated use of data derived from these is urgently needed, as identified by the GEO Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON).

The global biodiversity monitoring community has been slow in voicing their needs with respect to Earth observation. One of the main concerns for the biodiversity community is to assess and monitor the changes in the extent and condition of habitats in an effective and affordable manner. So far most of the EO-mapping for biodiversity has been done at a coarse spatial level or through manual interpretation of aerial photography or very high spatial resolution panchromatic satellite imagery. More recently airborne LiDAR has introduced 3-dimensional information which is proving to be very useful for identifying woody vegetation and evaluating its structure and the diversity in the fauna and flora it supports. The biodiversity community works at meter spatial resolutions with minimum mappable units of about 400m2 and requires multi-temporal coverage and spectral information in the NIR and SWIR to differentiate habitats and monitor their change.

The assessment of global observation capabilities for the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) initiated the development of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs), which are comparable to the Essential Climate Variables (ECVs). In the coming period these will be developed further for global observation through both in situ and RS. The EBVs will be developed in collaboration with CEOS and COFG-GOLD, communicated to organisations such as ESA, NASA, USGS and INPE, Everyone is invited to discuss with us how to frame the EBVs through


Jongman R.H.G., 2013 Biodiversity observations from local to global. Ecological Indicators Specioal Issue, in press.

Pereira, H.M.,, S. Ferrier, M. Walters, G. Geller, R.H.G. Jongman, R.J. Scholes, M. Bruford, N. Brummitt, S.H.M. Butchart, A.C. Cardoso, N.C. Coops, E. Dulloo, D.P. Faith., J. Freyhof, R.D. Gregory, C. Heip, R. Höft, G. Hurtt, W. Jetz, D. Karp, M.A. McGeoch, D. Obura, Y. Onoda, N. Pettorelli, B. Reyers, R. Sayre, J.P.W. Scharlemann, S.N. Stuart, E. Turak, M. Walpole, M. Wegmann, 2013. Essential Biodiversity Variables. Science 339: 277-278