Planetary boundaries define the earth’s environmental limits and the safe operating space for humanity. Understanding planetary boundaries helps us maintain a balance between development needs and nature. Biosphere integrity is considered one of the core planetary boundaries in regulating Earth system functioning. Encompassing all ecosystems and biodiversity (the variety of biological life), the biosphere interacts with the eight other planetary boundaries to maintain the planet’s capacity to continue functioning, including its ability to self-regulate and self-heal.

To understand the impact human activity is having on biosphere integrity, scientists and decision-makers need readily available, reliable data on genetic diversity and biodiversity loss. The Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII) is a simple and practical tool that bridges the gap between biodiversity experts and decision makers.

By convening over a hundred experts in African biodiversity, the BII4Africa project will produce a Biodiversity Intactness Index to monitor how much biodiversity remains intact in the face of human pressures across Africa. This continent-wide collaboration will channel biodiversity data from the notepads of experts into the hands of decision makers, enabling them to navigate development equitably and sustainably.

“Africa’s diverse ecosystems are fundamental to human well-being” explains project lead, Dr Hayley Clements. “Conserving biodiversity and safeguarding the ecosystem services on which humanity depends, while also navigating Africa’s socio-economic needs, remains a challenge for decision-makers.”

“Decision-making for sustainable African futures requires data on the links between biodiversity and human wellbeing, but barriers including data availability and accessibility remain a challenge. Bii4Africa is overcoming these challenges to mainstream biodiversity data into decision making for a just and sustainable future.”

The BII4Africa network brings together experts, institutions and initiatives who are monitoring biodiversity, with decision-makers from government, conservation organisations and other natural resource management organisations in Africa.

This collaboration aims to transform the way Africa develops, by recognising the role of nature in human well-being to create a more sustainable future for the continent.

The project is funded by the Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer Research Grant, which is awarded annually by Oppenheimer Generations to support a research programme focused on contributing to the advancement of environmental and allied sciences in Africa.

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