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An interconnected worldwide system of biodiversity observation networks is needed to coordinate monitoring worldwide and to track international biodiversity targets. This message is published in the renowned scientific journal Nature Ecology and Evolution by scientists from the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON), including W. Daniel Kissling from the University of Amsterdam.

At a time of nature crisis driven by unparalleled rates of biodiversity loss, a new interconnected system to monitor biodiversity around the world is urgently needed to direct and focus conservation action. “The lethal combination of habitat loss, the exploitation of natural populations, pollution, and climate change is causing species extinction rates not seen since the last mass extinction 65 million years ago,” says Prof. Andrew Gonzalez from McGill University in Canada, lead author of the study. “We lack the means to monitor these impacts fast enough across most areas of the planet.”

Like weather stations for biodiversity

Operating much like the existing global network of weather stations that monitor climate change and its impacts, the Global Biodiversity Observing System (GBiOS) is a proposal to establish a similar observing system for biodiversity. The idea has been developed by scientists from GEO BON, a global network that represents biodiversity as one of the nine Societal-Benefit-Areas within the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). The GBiOS will combine technology, data, and knowledge from around the world to foster collaboration and data sharing among countries and to provide the data urgently needed to monitor biodiversity change and target action. The central idea is to set-up a network of national and regional biodiversity observation networks (BONs) that will serve as the key units making up the GBiOS, just like the national weather agencies and climate observing networks that are the key units for the Global Climate Observing System of the World Meteorological Organization.

Building biodiversity observation networks

Biodiversity observation networks (BONs) coordinate biodiversity observations and monitoring to support policy and environmental legislation. Based on a network of observation sites, they are bringing together the biodiversity data and information needed to prompt conservation action. A BON can be national, subnational or regional in its level of operation and can cover different biomes (for example, marine or freshwater) and dimensions of biodiversity (such as genetics, species and ecosystems) to fill specific knowledge gaps. “In Europe, we are currently designing an EU-wide biodiversity observation network as one of the BONs to support the GBiOS”, says W. Daniel Kissling, Associate Professor at the University of Amsterdam and one of the dozens of scientists who collaborated to develop the proposal for GBiOS. The European Commission has funded this with a research and innovation action called ‘EuropaBON’ to come up with the BON design and to investigate the feasibility of setting up a centre to coordinate monitoring activities across Europe. "Our EuropaBON design builds on both in-situ and remote sensing data, and integrates novel technologies to deliver more complete and less biased biodiversity information with relevance for multiple EU policies", explains Kissling.

Supporting biodiversity policy worldwide

“GBiOS is a missing piece of the science-policy puzzle to support the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, a multilateral environmental agreement among ~200 countries which was agreed upon at the COP-15 conference in Montreal last year”, explains Kissling. The Global Biodiversity Framework was developed by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and sets out an ambitious plan to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to reach a global vision of a world living in harmony with nature by 2050. “GBiOS can provide the biodiversity information needed to track progress towards the specific targets for 2030 and the ambitious long-term goals for 2050”, says Kissling. The proposed global observatory for monitoring biodiversity would therefore advance the tracking of policy goals and targets and contribute to reducing the threats to biodiversity while meeting people’s needs through the sustainable use of biodiversity.


Gonzalez, A. et al. 2023: A global biodiversity observing system to unite monitoring and guide action. Nature Ecology and Evolution. DOI:

W. Daniel Kissling