Biodiversity Mapping and Monitoring

Scientists estimate the Earth holds at least 10 million species of plants and animals, yet only about 2 million species have been identified and described by taxonomists so far, the majority being mostly insects. That leaves some 80 percent of life on Earth undiscovered. With the rate of extinction accelerating, it’s critical to map where known and unknown species are located in order to protect their habitat.

"We should forever bear in mind that the beautiful world our species inherited took the biosphere 3.8 billion years to build. The intricacy of its species we know only in part..."

To inform decision-making on where to prioritize land and sea conservation efforts to protect species, the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation has supported the creation and adoption of key biodiversity metrics known as Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) that are vital for guiding a global strategy of biodiversity conservation and are an integral part of international policy frameworks, including the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON)

These indicators are based on biodiversity observations, harmonized across multiple data sources and standardized, to allow for a consistent monitoring standard. They support Goal A of the Global Biodiversity Framework of the Convention of Biological Diversity (halting human induced extinction of known threatened species) and Target 3 (ensuring 30 percent of land and water area are conserved and managed for ecological representation). These metrics also underpin the Half-Earth Project Map, our high-resolution, dynamic world map and decision-support tool that guides the identification of where place-based species conservation activities are needed the most to save the majority of global biodiversity.

At COP15 in the GBF, countries also formally adopted three EBVs to obtain critical measurements to support decision making: the Species Habitat Index (SHI), the Species Protection Index (SPI), and the Species Information Index (SII). Established research institutions have committed to these metrics and follow GEO data sharing principles

The Half-Earth Project Map visualizes the research of Map of Life at Yale University, designed by Vizzuality and powered by ArcGis andEsri technologies. Data sources used to generate the Half-Earth Project Map include UNEP-WCMC, IUCN, and IPBES. The EBVs (SPI, SHI, SII) were developed by the Map of Life in close collaboration with the GEO Biodiversity Observation Network (BON), Half-Earth Project, and in partnership with Google, Esri, NASA, the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, and others. The map is powered by the data storage, computational, and mapping capabilities of the Google Cloud Platform, Google Earth Engine, and Esri.

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