Analysis of agents and drivers of biodiversity loss

The analysis of agents and causes of biodiversity loss builds on the eligiblity criteria and is supported by secondary information collected on socio-economic variables of historical processes of biodiversity loss and habitat degradation. The agents and causes included are those that are associated with unsustainable uses of habitat zones, but also those that show the potential for reversal by project activities in the form of sustainable management or leveraged conservation processes including ethnic factors, cultural conservation, and livelihoods.

The analysis of agents and causes should be an iterative process, updated every five years as information becomes available, to improve the effectiveness of BCP actions (Figure 4).

In its first iteration, the main results should be incorporated into:

  • A first portfolio of BC activities. This methodology currently only includes conservation activities, but projects are encouraged to describe and define activities they used to achieve their outcomes.

  • The spatial delimitation of the BCP areas, including the final location of the segments of BC activities.

  • The temporal delimitation of the BCP.

It is recommended that assessments are carried out on an annual basis according to the circumstances of the BCP. This means that the first diagnosis of causes and actors is done in the consolidation of the PDD, and once a year thereafter. Project findings and dialogues at the local level should be incorporated with new information on socio-economic factors, and the actions can be updated based on the annual assessment.

The BCP should describe the drivers and causes of direct biodiversity loss, as well as the associated underlying causes that will determine the dynamics of BD activities (Table 2). It is recommended to use a variety of information (e.g., traditional knowledge, IP and LC experts, expert consultation, participatory social assessments, literature review, etc.).

Underlying causes are classified as those related to social, economic, demographic, technological, political, institutional, and cultural factors. The behavior of the underlying and direct causes should be described at the project level.

Clear knowledge of direct and underlying causes will aid BCP developers in designing targets for project activities that are effective, context-based, and IP and LC-informed.

Table 5. Drivers and causes of direct biodiversity loss.

Activity/driver of biodiversity loss

Mapping indicator

Common data sources

Common data sources

for biodiversity loss (national


Examples of other

indirect data


Commercial agriculture

Habitat destruction, large areas logged, post-harvest land use.

Historical satellite imagery.

Traditional biodiversity or habitat inventories/field measurements.

Commodity prices, agricultural censuses, share of gross domestic product, exports, etc.

Subsistence farming, smaller crops, and rotational crops

Small, logged areas, usually associated with rotation cycles.

Historical satellite images with high temporal density or high resolution to determine rotation patterns.

Traditional biodiversity or habitat inventories/field measurements.

Population growth in rural and urban areas, agricultural imports and exports, and land use practices, etc.

Expansion of infrastructure

Road network, new mines, and built-up areas.

Historical satellite images.

Traditional biodiversity or habitat inventories/field measurements.

Growth in urban and rural population, infrastructure development programmes, import and export prices of raw materials.

Climate change

Coastline changes, desertification.

Historical satellite images with habitat mapping.

IPCC Reports, national reports, remote sensing, and satellite data.

Proxy indicators, comparison with historical records, paleontological data.

Extraction of habitat products for subsistence, local and regional markets

Very small-scale canopy damage, understorey impacts, footpaths.

Land use/land cover maps, remote sensing and satellite imagery, ethnobotanical surveys.

Biodiversity on-the-ground surveys in areas where products are extracted, scientific research papers, national biodiversity databases, government reports, conservation organizations, etc.

Land use practices (e.g., agricultural burning), links to other activity data attributable to burning, fire prevention, and natural fires.

Subsistence hunting or biological trafficking

Very small-scale canopy damage, understorey impacts, footpaths.

Limited historical data. Information from local studies or national proxies. Only long-term cumulative changes can be observed by satellite imagery.

Limited historical data. Information from local scale studies. Community-based monitoring has a key role. Other indirect methods of measuring habitat changes can be employed.

Surveys and interviews with local communities, market surveys.

Other disturbances (e.g., uncontrolled fires)

Burn scars and associated impacts.

Historical fire-related satellite data, analyzed in conjunction with Landsat-type data.

Regular estimation of biodiversity loss can be measured consistently for different periods depending on data availability.

Vegetation sampling, monitoring indicator species.


Economic inequality

Land conversion and deforestation, resource exploitation.

National statistical agencies, household surveys, and international organizations.

Biodiversity databases like IUCN, GBIF. Socioeconomic surveys that incorporate questions related to biodiversity interactions, Environmental Impact assessments (EIAs) Land use and land cover change.

Land use change and fragmentation, consumption patterns, socioeconomic surveys and household data.

Policy failures

Land conversion and deforestation, habitat fragmentation, resource exploitation, illegal wildlife trafficking.

Land-use change analysis species inventories, habitat quality and fragmentation assessment.

National and regional environmental agencies , research institutions, NGOs, biodiversity monitoring programs.

Conservation policy analysis evaluating the effectiveness of such policies , stakeholder interviews and surveys, including local communities conservation organizations and policymakers.

Weak law enforcement

Illegal logging and timber trade, protected area invasion, agricultural expansion, mining, etc.

Land-use change analysis species inventories, habitat quality and fragmentation assessment.

Government agencies, NGOs,, Customs and borders control agencies , research and academic institutions, public reports.

illegal wildlife trade monitoring, satellite imagery and remote sensing, expert surveys and interviews.

Lack of local engagement

Habitat loss, loss of traditional ecological knowledge,illegal activities, fragmentation.

Land-use change analysis species inventories, habitat quality and fragmentation assessment.

Biodiversity surveys and inventories, community-based monitoring programs, traditional ecological knowledge, community organizations, stakeholder interviews and local surveys.

Community-based monitoring, local ecological knowledge social surveys.

Global demand for resources

Land conversion and deforestation, resource and species exploitation.

Land-use change analysis species inventories, habitat quality and fragmentation assessment.

Remote sensing and satellite data, Regional and national biodiversity inventories, Global Biodiversity information Facility (GBIF), IUCN.

Land use and land cover change analysis, global trade data, supply chain analysis, economic indicators, corporate sustainability reports.

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