Biodiversity quality?

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Alan Feest and his colleagues have been very productive recently in arguing for a new concept: biodiversity quality. What is that?

Basically, considering that considering the total number of species in a given location is not enough to describe that location’s value in terms of biodiversity, they argue that decision-makers should instead use a basket of indicators that includes standard biodiversity indicators (such as the Shannon-Wiener index) but also densities, biomass and/or indices of species conservation value (built through a weighing of species based on their conservation status). Mr. Feest says so himself: this is not new!

Calling this approach a new paradigm and labelling it “biodiversity quality” might be a bit presumptuous but the point of jointly using multiple indicators remains particularly relevant. This is because ecosystem management and nature conservation are now under heavy pressure to itemise ecosystems into “manageable” components (e.g. “biodiversity” or this or that “ecosystem service”). Multi-criteria methods such as those advocated by Mr. Feest are no doubt a useful answer, which could be used as an alternative to the bundling of the items suggested by Kosoy and Corbera (2010).

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