Biodiversity surveys provide the essential baseline data required for monitoring change and managing conservation

There is an old maxim in businesses that says you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Well, the same is true of our natural world and our impacts on it, and this is why we conduct biodiversity surveys, inventories and studies in data deficient or high risk areas.

 

Take the interior forests of Borneo: we know they are amongst the most diverse places on earth, but our knowledge of these forests’ biodiversity is marginal, and hardly any data has been recorded to map species diversity, distribution and richness patterns. Moreover, these forests and the species and peoples that rely on them are under imminent threat from mining, logging, agriculture, and climate change.

It is easier to burn a book that you have never read or don’t understand than to on you know and love, and so we are in danger of destroying whole volumes from the grand Book of Life before we’ve even had to chance to open their covers, let alone study their pages. Biodiversity surveys are the first steps to deciphering those pages. They give us a good idea of what species of plant and animal are present in an area, and in what abundance.

It is these data that are necessary to implement effective and efficient conservation measures, such as identifying areas of High Conservation Value which require priority conservation action, or monitoring how species composition changes as we disturb and alter the environment through deforestation, pollution, and climate change.

To date, the vast majority of ecological research has been conducted in the northern parts of Borneo; Sabah and Sarawak, as well as the island’s more accessible coastal regions. In contrast, relatively little is known from the Indonesian interior of the island. This is where conservation programs can still have a huge impact, and where new species continue to be discovered.

Our Biodiversity Surveys are occasionally Rapid Biodiversity Assessments (RBA) and sometimes part of longer term programs. They are multidisciplinary and, where possible, we build in capacity building, education, and interactive outreach projects in order to achieve maximum impact.