Biodiversity Indicators

Biodiversity Indicators are statistical measures of biodiversity which help scientists, managers and politicians understand the condition of biodiversity and the factors that affect it.

When governments adopted the ‘2010 Biodiversity Target’ in 2002, Biodiversity Indicators were developed as a way of measuring progress towards the targets. Standardized measures make it easier to monitor, compare and communicate changes in the health and diversity of nature over time such as changes in the size and distribution of populations of species, habitats and interactions between communities of species and the environment.

The Biodiversity Indicators allow managers and politicians to see if their decisions are conserving biodiversity or leading to its degradation and loss. Without this knowledge it is not possible to know if the actions being taken are working and should continue or if different approaches need to be tried. Therefore Biodiversity Indicators can help to ensure that effort and resources are allocated efficiently and effectively.

The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity includes 20 time-bound, measurable targets to be met by the year 2020 (Aichi Biodiversity Targets). Biodiversity indicators are the primary mechanism for monitoring progress towards the Strategic Plan and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

The IUCN Species Programme contributes directly to these indicators – at the global level, through indicators linked to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and Key Biodiversity Areas, and at the national level, through disaggregation of global indicators of progress towards the Targets, at both the national and regional levels.

Three examples of global Biodiversity Indicators currently in use include; The IUCN Red List Index, the Living Planet Index and the Global Wild Bird Index.


The Red List Index uses changes in threat categories, such as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable, to measure changes in the overall risk of a group of species becoming extinct. The Living Planet Index and the Global Wild Bird Index are population-based indicators that combine data from individual populations of many species to create a single index. New indicators are being developed that will add more information to the current indexes such as following the commercial demand for species and the spread of invasive species.

IUCN is also a partner in the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership.

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