KBA, AZE, HCV, HBWA, IBA…? Like any other field, the process of identifying the most important places for biodiversity comes with its own set of alphabet soup and jargon. Many businesses that partner with groups like Conservation International’s (CI) Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB—another mouthful of an acronym) find their first problem is understanding where to start.
These businesses want to avoid or minimize their impacts on important places—but the question is, what are “important places”? Which ones come with legal risks? Which ones are the most important to conservation science? Which ones have clearly defined boundaries, like a national park or patch of forest? Which ones are giant blobs that encompass important countries or regions?
Never fear—a new online guide, the “A-Z Areas of Biodiversity Importance,” was launched this week at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya by the U.N. Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and several large development organizations like the Inter-American Development Bank. CI and other partners also made technical contributions to the guide.
The new website provides a variety of resources allowing users to view local biodiversity information and map the ecosystems in question. One of these tools is the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT), a joint project of BirdLife International, CI, IUCN and UNEP-WCMC, which provides decision-makers with access to accurate and up-to-date biodiversity information. (Go have a look—and impress your friends with your astounding knowledge of biodiversity.)
CI recognizes that the world needs to develop, but we also think that development must be done in ways that do not damage nature’s ability to support our livelihoods and economy now and in the long term. This website, then, is just one more step toward making it easier and faster for responsible businesses to keep their competitive edge while taking biodiversity into consideration—and we hope you’ll use this guide when you assess the impacts of your next project.
Conrad Savy is a biodiversity analyst in CI’s Science + Knowledge division.