Overcoming the challenges to conservation monitoring: integrating data from in-situ reporting and global data sets to measure impact and performance

If parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and their partners are to report effectively on progress against national, regional and global biodiversity conservation goals, data will need to be collected at multiple levels. Global data sets, many gathered using remote sensing, offer partial solutions but need to be complemented by field-level observations to provide the resolution necessary to track conservation measures in a meaningful way. This paper summarises efforts made by the conservation organisation WWF, working with partners, to integrate 10 indicators of relevance to CBD parties into its global monitoring system and to use global data sets and data from field programmes to determine progress against multi-level goals and to assess programme performance and impacts. Integration of in-situ and ex-situ data into reporting dashboards tailored to WWFs needs allowed some degree of assessment of progress and adaptive management of the programme portfolio. Indicator trends were most favourable (on track) for protected area (PA) coverage and market share of sustainable commodities, and least favourable (worsening) for species offtake, species populations, wildlife trade, habitat fragmentation and Ecological Footprint. The most useful indicators which could be disaggregated to provide trends at local levels relevant to WWF field programmes were species populations, habitat cover and fragmentation, PA coverage and PA management effectiveness. However challenges remain if local and global monitoring objectives are to be aligned, including the need for increased collection of data by field projects, improved harmonisation of indicators, and greater sharing of data in formats of use to practitioners. We advocate wider adoption by governments and civil society organisations of indicators with the dual function of tracking delivery of CBD Aichi Targets as well as monitoring national, regional and ecoregional level conservation programmes, and urge more NGOs and academic bodies to support capacity building and data collection.