A biodiversity action plan (BAP) is an internationally recognized program addressing threatened species and habitats and is designed to protect and restore biological systems. The original impetus for these plans derives from the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). As of 2009, 191 countries have ratified the CBD, but only a fraction of these have developed substantive BAP documents.
The principal elements of a BAP typically include: (a) preparing inventories of biological information for selected species or habitats; (b) assessing the conservation status of species within specified ecosystems; (c) creation of targets for conservation and restoration; and (d) establishing budgets, timelines and institutional partnerships for implementing the BAP.
A fundamental method of engagement to a BAP is thorough documentation regarding individual species, with emphasis upon the population distribution and
A species plan component of a country’s BAP should ideally entail a thorough description of the range, habitat, behaviour, breeding and interaction with other species. Once a determination has been made of conservation status (e.g.
Agricultural practices can reduce the biodiversity of a region significantly. Biodiversity Action Plans for agricultural production are necessary to ensure a biodiversity friendly production. It has not been common for companies to integrate biodiversity aspects into their value chain, but some companies and organizations have shown overall efforts for implementing better practices.
An existing example for guidelines on biodiversity practices in agriculture is the Biodiversity Action Plan for spice production in India. By planning and implementing biodiversity friendly measures, farmers can mitigate negative impacts and support positive influences.
Where a number of threatened species depend upon a specific habitat, it may be appropriate to prepare a habitat protection element of the Biodiversity Action Plan. Examples of such special habitats are: raised acidic bogs of Scotland; Waterberg Biosphere bushveld in South Africa; California’s coastal wetlands; and Sweden’s Stora Alvaret on the island of Öland. In this case also, careful inventories of species and also the geographic extent and quality of the habitat must be documented. Then, as with species plans, a program can be created to protect, enhance and/or restore habitat using similar strategies as discussed above under the species plans.
Some examples of individual countries which have produced substantive Biodiversity Action Plans follow. In every example the plans concentrate on plants and vertebrate animals, with very little attention to neglected groups such as fungi, invertebrate animals and micro-organisms, even though these are also part of biodiversity. Preparation of a country BAP may cost up to 100 million pounds sterling, with annual maintenance costs roughly ten percent of the initial cost. If plans took into account neglected groups, the cost would be higher. Obviously costs for countries with small geographical area or simplified ecosystems have a much lesser cost. For example, the St. Lucia BAP has been costed in the area of several million pounds sterling.
Australia has developed a detailed and rigorous Biodiversity Action Plan. This document estimates that the total number of indigenous species may be 560,000, many of which are endemic. A key element of the BAP is protection of the Great Barrier Reef, which is actually in a much higher state of health than most of the world’s reefs, Australia having one of the highest percentages of treated wastewater. There are however serious ongoing concerns, particularly in regards to the ongoing negative impact on water quality from land use practices. Also, climate change impact is feared to be significant.
Considerable analysis has been conducted on the sustainable yield of firewood production, a major threat to deforestation in most tropical countries. Biological inventory work; assessment of harvesting practices; and computer modeling of the dynamics of treefall, rot and harvest; have been carried out to adduce data on safe harvesting rates. Extensive research has also been conducted on the relation of brush clearance to biodiversity decline and impact on water tables; for example, these effects have been analyzed in the Toolibin Lake wetlands region.
New Zealand has ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity and as part of The New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy and Biodiversity Action Plans are implemented on ten separate themes.
Local government and some companies also have their own Biodiversity Action Plan.
The St. Lucia BAP features significant involvement from the
The Tanzania national BAP addresses issues related to sustainable use of Lake Manyara, an extensive freshwater lake, whose usage by humans accelerated in the period 1950 to 1990. The designation of the Lake Manyara Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1981 combines conservation of the lake and surrounding high value forests with sustainable use of the wetlands area and simple agriculture. This BAP has united principal lake users in establishing management targets. The biosphere reserve has induced sustainable management of the wetlands, including monitoring groundwater and the chemistry of the escarpment water source.
On August 28, 2007, the new Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) [launched in 1997] identified 1,149 species and 65 habitats in the UK that needed conservation and greater protection. The updated list included the hedgehog, house sparrow, grass snake and the garden tiger moth, while otters, bottlenose dolphins and red squirrels remained in need of habitat protection.
In May 2011, the European Commission adopted a new strategy to halt the
UK BAP website
To support the work of the UK BAP, the UK BAP website was created by JNCC in 2001. The website contained information on the BAP process, hosted all relevant documents, and provided news and relevant updates. In March 2011, as part of the UK government’s review of websites, the UK BAP site was ‘closed’, and the core content was migrated into the JNCC website.
Twenty-six years prior to the international biodiversity convention, the United States had launched a national program to protect threatened species in the form of the 1966
Five major divisions of habitat have been identified in
Some developing countries criticize the emphasis of BAPs, because these plans inherently favour consideration of wildlife protection above food and industrial production, and in some cases may represent an obstacle to population growth. The plans are costly to produce, a fact which makes it difficult for many smaller countries and poorer countries to comply. In terms of the plans themselves, many countries have adopted pro-forma plans including little research and even less in the way of natural resource management. Almost universally, this has resulted in plans which emphasize plants and vertebrate animals, and which overlook fungi, invertebrate animals and micro-organisms. With regard to specific world regions, there is a notable lack of substantive participation by most of the Middle Eastern countries and much of Africa, the latter of which may be impeded by economic considerations of plan preparation. Some governments such as the European Union have diverted the purpose of a biodiversity action plan, and implemented the convention accord by a set of economic development policies with referencing certain ecosystems' protection.
Biodiversity planning: a new way of thinking
The definition of biodiversity under the Convention on Biological Diversity now recognises that biodiversity is a combination of ecosystem structure and function, as much as its components e.g. species, habitats and genetic resources. Article 2 states:
in addressing the boundless complexity of biological diversity, it has become conventional to think in hierarchical terms, from the genetic material within individual cells, building up through individual organisms, populations, species and communities of species, to the biosphere overall...At the same time, in seeking to make management intervention as efficient as possible, it is essential to take an holistic view of biodiversity and address the interactions that species have with each other and their non-living environment, i.e. to work from an ecological perspective.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development endorsed the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity to “achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of life on Earth”. To achieve this outcome, biodiversity management will depend on maintaining structure and function.
Biodiversity is not singularly definable but may be understood via a series of management principles under BAPs, such as:
1. that biodiversity is conserved across all levels and scales – structure, function and composition are conserved at site, regional, state and national scales. 2. that examples of all ecological communities are adequately managed for conservation. 3. ecological communities are managed to support and enhance viable populations of animals, fungi, micro-organisms and plants and ecological functions.
Biodiversity and wildlife are not the same thing. The traditional focus on threatened species in BAPs is at odds with the principles of biodiversity management because, by the time species become threatened, the processes that maintain biodiversity are already compromised. Individual species are also regarded as generally poor indicators of biodiversity when it comes to actual planning.
Modern day BAPs use an analysis of
- 2010 Biodiversity Target
- 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership
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- Government of St. Lucia (2001). "National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan of St. Lucia". Archived from the original on November 5, 2006. Retrieved August 30, 2006.
- Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (2011). "Australia's Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2010-2030" (PDF). Retrieved December 7, 2012.
- Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Environment and Heritage (September 2005). "Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Protection Plan Annual Report 2004-2005". Archived from the original on August 22, 2006. Retrieved August 30, 2006.
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