Scientists call for a worldwide biodiversity monitoring system

The system will help bridge the gap between science and effective policy.  

As the world experiences steep declines in biodiversity, an international network of scientists is calling for the establishment of a worldwide system to coordinate monitoring and guide policy action. 

In an article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, they say habitat loss, pollution and climate change is causing change at a rate that outpaces their ability to measure, monitor and forecast trends. 

The proposal – the Global Biodiversity Observing System – is similar to the coordinated systems that the weather forecasting and climate-assessment communities have had for decades.

It would foster international collaboration and knowledge sharing to make biodiversity data and information more accessible, leading to a better understanding of where, why and how fast biodiversity is changing on a global scale. 

In turn this would bridge the science-policy divide and enable scientists to feed information into policy forums to better direct and focus conservation action and track recovery. 

The initiative is foundational to delivering the information needed to achieve the goal of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KM-GBF) of living in harmony with nature. 

Furthermore, key issues that the Global Biodiversity Observing System would be able to address include: 

  • Address gaps, biases and standardisation in biodiversity data
  • Provide data and information to assess progress towards the KM-GBF’s goals, including halting extinctions
  • Understand biodiversity change across different scales
  • Guide the strategic implementation of technologies for monitoring and data collection
  • Foster engagement across international, national and local scales, including with Indigenous peoples 

A Global Biodiversity Observing System as a worldwide network of national and regional biodiversity observation networks (BONs) 


The initiative would also have important benefits for the monitoring and protection of Antarctic biodiversity. 

Chief Investigator, Professor Melodie McGeoch said that with the ever increasing urgency to understand change in the Antarctic environment and its consequences for humanity, the call for an interconnected worldwide system of observation networks is timely. 

“Antarctica as an essential and connected component of the earth system is likely to see some of the most dramatic changes to biodiversity as temperatures increase, ice melts and precipitation regimes change,” Professor McGeoch said. 

“The efficiency and effectiveness to be gained from the continent and the Southern Ocean Islands being part of the Global Biodiversity Observing System can not be underestimated.”

“No part of the earth system remains isolated from the impacts of global change, and changes in Antarctic productivity and diversity are key to life on earth and how we live with it.”

Read more

Gonzalez, A., Vihervaara, P., Balvanera, P. et al. (2023) A global biodiversity observing system to unite monitoring and guide action. Nature Ecology & Evolution. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-023-02171-0

About the author

Anna Quinn

Anna is SAEF’s the Senior Communications Adviser.