2011-2020 is the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity

Definition: Biodiversity, or biological diversity, is usually defined as the variety and variability of living organisms and the biological communities in which they live, plus the ecological and evolutionary processes that keep them functioning. There are four levels of diversity: genetic, species, ecosystem, and landscape. (Library of Congress, Tracer bullet 97-5)

Reference Materials: 

For a list of international agreements on this topic see the web site for the Liaison Group of Biodiversity-related Conventions and the CIESIN thematic guide to the Convention on Biological Diversity

Data & Statistics


GEO Data portal (UNEP) is the authoritative source for data sets used by UNEP and its partners in the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report and other integrated environment assessments. Its online database holds more than 500 different variables, as national, subregional, regional and global statistics or as geospatial data sets (maps), covering themes like Freshwater, Population, Forests, Emissions, Climate, Disasters, Health and GDP. Display them on-the-fly as maps, graphs, data tables or download the data in different formats.

Earth Trends a comprehensive online database, maintained by the World Resources Institute, that focuses on the environmental, social, and economic trends that shape our world.

Biodiversity Hotspots maps and statistics from Conservation International, a non-governmental interest group. To qualify as a hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria: it must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants (> 0.5 percent of the world’s total) as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat.

Government Information

Canada - Federal: 
Canada - Provincial: 

Australia and New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States


International intergovernmental organizations with Biodiversity or Sustainable Development mandates:

Laws & Legislation

Canada - Federal: 

Natural Resources Canada Policy and legislation: International agreements

Protecting Biodiversity: national laws regulating access to genetic resources in the Americas (IDRC) This book is the first to compare such laws and policies across a range of countries in both the industrialized and developing worlds, including Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Peru, and the United States. It also presents legal viewpoints, conclusions, and solid recommendations for future action.

Canada - Provincial: 

Canadian Environmental Regulation and Compliance News - links to provincial and federal regulatory sites


Official texts of international agreements, conventions

Maps & GIS



North America

  • Atlas of Canada maps
  • Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility Online mapping tools for biodiversity
  • North American environmental atlas (CEC) Through a collaboration of government agencies in Canada, Mexico and the United States and the trilateral Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), the North American Environmental Atlas assembles seamless, accurate cartographic data, including maps, documentation, and interactive map layers at a scale of 1:10,000,000.
  • Ottawa-Gatineau watershed atlas: a community-based water information hub



  • India Biodiversity Portal a map-based wiki focused on gathering, aggregating and serving biodiversity information on the Indian subcontinent

Polar Regions


Non-governmental organizations or sites with Biodiversity or Sustainable Development resources: