The Economist, of all publications, draws attention to the need for better data around biodiversity conservation in a recent short article, “Extinct and unmourned.”
In June the Zoological Society of London launched an online version of Scott’s books [“Red Lists” of endangered species]. It unpicks the existing global lists held in Morges and examines them at the national level. It should thus be possible to identify which species are at risk of extinction within any given country’s borders. The database contains details of more than 50,000 species in 40 countries and regions, such as the Baltic Sea.
That may sound impressive, but it is not. It demonstrates that whole swathes of the world have been left unexamined … The list’s sparsity shows that in the parts of the world where biodiversity is greatest and conservation planning is most important, conservationists lack the information with which to prioritise their efforts.
My hope is that projects like EOL will seek to provide not only a baseline of information about individual species, but also a platform where aggregate information like this can be more easily collected, presented, and acted upon.