Developing indicators for monitoring biodiversity, as called for by the Convention on Biological Diversity and 2020 Aichi Targets, is challenging in many countries due to data and capacity gaps. One proposed solution is to disaggregate global datasets to generate national-level indicators for countries where these values do not exist, but to date there are few examples where this approach has been systematically applied and its efficacy investigated. Using comparisons of disaggregated global data and data generated nationally for four indicators in five tropical Andean countries, we show that the two approaches can often lead to divergent values. Differences between values gathered using these two methods vary according to country and indicator, with the average differences for all countries as 26% for forest cover loss (maximum Bolivia 31%), 10% for the Red List Index (maximum Venezuela 27% for birds), 14% for protected area coverage of Key Biodiversity Areas (maximum Colombia 25%), and 67% for carbon sequestration potential (maximum Peru 102%).Most of the variations are due to methodological differences, calling into question the reliability of inter-country comparisons and roll-ups of national indicator data to regional or global scales. Nationally-generated indicators are desirable because they have the greatest power to influence national policy. However, in cases where regional or global consistency is needed, such as assessments by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and Global Environmental Outlook, assessors should rely on global and regionally-disaggregated global data to elucidate trends and spatial patterns formost indicators. To broaden the utility of nationally-generated indicators, the biodiversity indicators community must agree on methodological standards, ensure that local stakeholders' needs are understood and addressed, develop incentives for the use of these standards, and communicate them to practitioners at all levels.
Han et al. 2016. Monitoring national conservation progress with indicators derived from global and national datasets. Biological Conservation (2016) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.08.023
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