6 April 2023

Deep Dive: Biodiversity Metrics

Cara Howse

Research Analyst

Dr Sadadi Ojoatre

Research Associate

Dr Nick Atkinson

Chief Science Officer

17 min

The complex nature of biodiversity means it is difficult to measure. Many in-situ (field observation) and top-down (Earth observation) approaches to data capture have been developed using techniques and methodologies, ranging from simple observations to the collection of environmental DNA and processing of satellite images. This data is processed into indexes or metrics that describe aspects of ecosystems and their functions.

Ecosystem metrics enable spatial and temporal changes to be tracked, and can indicate where interventions might be needed to protect or restore an ecosystem. Whilst such metrics have been used by scientists for many decades, there is increasing interest in how they might be used to underpin the establishment of biodiversity credits or units. In turn, these could create a corporate finance stream for nature conservation, similar to the voluntary carbon market (VCM).

Key Takeaways:

1. There is no single right approach to measuring biodiversity. Natural ecosystems are complex and varied and therefore hard to measure and compare.

2. The lack of a single global biodiversity metric poses a major challenge to galvanising the private sector finance required to conserve, restore and protect biodiversity.

3. In this report we review the different techniques for gathering data on biodiversity and the various metrics these observations can be used to create.

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