Laura Hood summarises the latest data on the world's biodiversity, with facts and figures on its value and efforts to conserve it.
This feature contains the latest data on the extent and the distribution of the world's biodiversity. It also includes the most recent estimates of extinction threats for different groups of species, as well as facts and figures on the value of biodiversity and efforts to conserve it.
The data are based mostly on the best available sources, including Conservation International, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the 2009 Red List of Threatened Species published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the WWF's Living Planet Report, and the Earth Trends database of the World Resources Institute.
Readers will notice that although the majority of the world's biodiversity is found in the developing world, most data have been collected and analysed in institutions based in richer countries.
Thankfully, several international initiatives are underway to build the biodiversity data-gathering capacity of research institutions in developing countries and to connect them to efforts in the developed world. These include the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and the Proteus project of the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre in the United Kingdom.