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About the data



Deforestation and biodiversity Definitions

As threats to biodiversity mount, the international com-

ecoregions, and threatened ecoregions. To combine

• Forest area is land spanning more than 0.5 hectares

munity is increasingly focusing on conserving diversity.

these dimensions into one measure, the indicator

with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover

Deforestation is a major cause of loss of biodiversity,

uses dimensional weights that reflect the consensus

of more than 10 percent or with trees able to reach

and habitat conservation is vital for stemming this

of conservation scientists at the GEF, IUCN, WWF Inter-

these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that

loss. Conservation efforts have focused on protecting

national, and other nongovernmental organizations.

is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.

areas of high biodiversity. The Food and Agriculture

The World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC)

• Average annual deforestation is the permanent con-

Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Global Forest

compiles data on protected areas, numbers of certain

version of natural forest area to other uses, including

Resources Assessment 2010 provides detailed informa-

species, and numbers of those species under threat

agriculture, ranching, settlements, and infrastruc-

tion on forest cover in 2010 and adjusted estimates

from various sources. Because of differences in defini-

ture. Deforested areas do not include areas logged

of forest cover in 1990 and 2000. The current survey

tions, reporting practices, and reporting periods, cross-

but intended for regeneration or areas degraded by

uses a uniform definition of forest. Because of space

country comparability is limited. Nationally protected

fuelwood gathering, acid precipitation, or forest fires.

limitations, the table does not break down forest cover

areas are defined using the six IUCN management cat-

• Threatened species are the number of species clas-

between natural forest and plantation, a breakdown

egories for areas of at least 1,000 hectares: scientific

sified by the IUCN as endangered, vulnerable, rare,

the FAO provides for developing countries. Thus the

reserves and strict nature reserves with limited public

indeterminate, out of danger, or insufficiently known.

deforestation data in the table may underestimate the

access; national parks of national or international sig-

Mammals exclude whales and porpoises. Birds are

rate at which natural forest is disappearing in some

nificance and not materially affected by human activ-

listed for the country where their breeding or wintering


ity; natural monuments and natural landscapes with

ranges are located. Plants are native vascular plant

The number of threatened species is an important

unique aspects; managed nature reserves and wildlife

species. • GEF benefits index for biodiversity is a

measure of the immediate need for conservation in

sanctuaries; protected landscapes (which may include

composite index of relative biodiversity potential based

an area. Global analyses of the status of threatened

cultural landscapes); and areas managed mainly for the

on the species represented in each country and their

species have been carried out for few groups of organ-

sustainable use of natural systems to ensure long-term

threat status and diversity of habitat types. The index

isms. Only for mammals, birds, and amphibians has the

protection and maintenance of biological diversity. The

has been normalized from 0 (no biodiversity potential)

status of virtually all known species been assessed.

data in the table cover these six categories as well as

to 100 (maximum biodiversity potential). • Nationally

Threatened species are defined using the International

terrestrial protected areas that are not assigned to a

protected areas are totally or partially protected areas

Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) classifica-

category by the IUCN. Designating an area as protected

of at least 1,000 hectares that are designated as sci-

tion: endangered (in danger of extinction and unlikely

does not mean that protection is in force. And for small

entific reserves with limited public access, national

to survive if causal factors continue operating) and vul-

countries that only have protected areas smaller than

parks, natural monuments, nature reserves or wildlife

nerable (likely to move into the endangered category in

1,000 hectares, the size limit in the definition leads to

sanctuaries, and protected landscapes. Terrestrial

the near future if causal factors continue operating).

an underestimate of protected areas.

protected areas exclude marine areas, unclassified

The Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) benefits

Due to variations in consistency and methods of

areas, littoral (intertidal) areas, and sites protected

index for biodiversity is a comprehensive indicator

collection, data quality is highly variable across coun-

under local or provincial law. Marine protected areas

of national biodiversity status and is used to guide

tries. Some countries update their information more

are areas of intertidal or subtidal terrain—and overly-

its biodiversity priorities. For each country the biodi-

frequently than others, some have more accurate data

ing water and associated flora and fauna and histori-

versity indicator incorporates the best available and

on extent of coverage, and many underreport the num-

cal and cultural features—that have been reserved to

comparable information in four relevant dimensions:

ber or extent of protected areas.

protect part or the entire enclosed environment.

represented species, threatened species, represented


At least 33 percent of assessed species are estimated to be threatened

Data sources Data on forest area are from the FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 and the FAO’s data web

Species (thousands)

site. Data on species are from the electronic files


of the United Nations Environment Programme and WCMC, the 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened Spe-


cies, and Froese and Pauly’s (2008) FishBase database. The GEF benefits index for biodiversity is from



Kiran Dev Pandey, Piet Buys, Ken Chomitz, and David Wheeler’s, “Biodiversity Conservation Indicators: New Threatened


Tools for Priority Setting at the Global Environment Facility” (2006). Data on protected areas are from the United Nations Environment Programme and WCMC,

0 2000



Source: International Union for Conservation of Nature.




based on data from national authorities and national legislation and international agreements.

2011 World Development Indicators


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