Which Biodiversity Definition for Biodiversity Conservation?
I&D Project. Ref. PTDC/IVC-HFC/1817/2014
Given the massive anthropogenic loss of species we are experiencing, the future generations are bound to face important challenges such as protecting and restoring the species’ habitats and managing the well-being of ecosystems. In other words, they are bound to conserve biodiversity.
However, although the biodiversity crisis has risen up the policy agenda more than twenty years ago, there is still no agreement on a definition of “biodiversity”: no less than 85 definitions have been counted in the relevant literature. More generally, different understandings of the term “biodiversity”—in particular, the scientific and the commonsensical one — pose a threat to biodiversity conservation for at least two reasons. On the one hand, effective conservation policies need the engagement of several actors, including scientists, decision makers, governments, jurists, policymakers, land users, as well as the general public; and the biodiversity crisis cannot be handled without the effective communication and cooperation among them. On the other hand, if biodiversity is defined in fundamentally different ways, agreement on strategies for biodiversity conservation may be gravely impaired.
“BIODECON—Which biodiversity definition for biodiversity conservation?” has two aims: to put forward the formal and material constraints that a definition of biodiversity should satisfy in order to be effective in conservation actions; and to relate these constraints with conservation policies, by taking into account both the scientific and societal challenges implied in conserving biodiversity.