A pristine mangrove forest. Myanmar, © Ethan Daniels

Working Group:
Ecosystem Services and Key Biodiversity Areas

Biodiversity loss is accelerating around the world. To support management decisions that account for biodiversity, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has led the development of a global standard for the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). While the criteria for KBA identification are based solely on biodiversity characteristics, the standard also recommends that the documentation for each KBA include the ecosystem services and human well-being benefits of the site. Unfortunately, existing tools and methods for documenting, measuring and valuing ecosystem services have been deployed in only a fraction of existing KBAs.

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Working Group Summary

Valuing the Ecosystem Service and Human Well-Being Benefits of KBAs

The Ecosystem Services and Key Biodiversity Areas Working Group is evaluating currently available ecosystem service assessment tools to determine in what instances those tools could be useful in providing ecosystem service and human well-being information for KBAs. From this evaluation the group will recommend a classification scheme and checklist for documenting ecosystem services as part of KBA identification, and improve existing tools by developing new methods and guidance of particular relevance for KBAs. The working group’s outputs will be piloted at study sites in Myanmar and Canada, in collaboration with Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, and BirdLife International.

The Challenge

Lack of Information on Benefits of KBAs

Government, industry, private landholders and local communities are making decisions on the management of important sites for nature without adequate knowledge of their biodiversity significance or the ecosystem services and human well-being they provide. In spite of tremendous progress in understanding the nature and value of ecosystem services provided by biodiversity, people lack a clear picture of these values for the global network of the most important sites for biodiversity.

Unfortunately, the existing tools and methods for documenting, measuring and valuing ecosystem services have been deployed in only a tiny fraction of existing KBAs. This could be the result of a number of factors: existing tools and methods may be too complex, data demanding or time consuming to apply; may not be appropriate for site-scale assessment; or not well known to the groups and individuals typically involved in KBA identification, such as local or national conservation groups and scientists.

The Koeye River, Canada © Mark Godfrey 2010 The Nature Conservancy

The Inquiry

Showing the Human Benefits of Safeguarding KBAs

The Ecosystem Services and Key Biodiversity Areas Work Group is integrating existing work on ecosystem service assessment with the KBA Standard developed by the IUCN to provide a new synthesis of the human well-being benefits of safeguarding important sites for biodiversity. The group is working to:

  • develop new standards for documenting ecosystem services generated by KBAs and provide proof-of-concept for these through application of the KBA Standard in Canada and Myanmar;
  • evaluate and provide guidance on how existing tools can be used to measure, value and monitor ecosystem services and human well-being benefits generated by these sites; and
  • improve existing tools by developing new methods and guidance of particular relevance for KBAs.

By making the data publicly available through widely used decision platforms, such as the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT), the working group will support improved environmental decision-making by both the public and private sectors.

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The Team

Ecosystem Services and Key Biodiversity Areas Team

 

SNAP