The IPBES core glossary provides a standard definition for important terms of broad applicability to IPBES outputs. This core glossary does not replace the assessment-specific glossaries, but is complementary to them. It was developed by a glossary committee established for this purpose.

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Term Definition

An analytical technique used to search for target-seeking scenarios that fulfil a predefined goal, or set of goals.


A minimum or starting point with which to compare other information (e.g. for comparisons between past and present or before and after an intervention).

Benchmarking (of models)

See "models".

Benefit sharing

Distribution of benefits between stakeholders.


Advantage that contributes to wellbeing from the fulfilment of needs and wants. In the context of nature’s contributions to people (see “Nature’s contributions to people”), a benefit is a positive contribution. (There may also be negative contributions, dis-benefits, or costs, from Nature, such as diseases).


Occurring at the bottom of a body of water; related to benthos.


A group of organisms, other invertebrates, that live in or on the bottom in aquatic habitats.

Brown, C. 2010. Nutrients in Estuaries

See "annual".

Bio-technical stabilization

A method for mitigating land degradation using mechanical (structures) and biological elements to prevent severe erosion.


Charcoal made from biomass via pyrolysis and used for soil improvement.

Biocultural diversity

The diversity exhibited by interacting natural systems and human cultures. The concept rests on three propositions: firstly, that the diversity of life includes human cultures and languages; secondly, that links exist between biodiversity and human cultural diversity; and finally, that these links have developed over time through mutual adaptation and possibly co-evolution between humans, plants and animals.

Biocultural refugia

Places where relict (formerly more widespread or abundant) species have found shelter during periods of stress, and that also contain a diversity of human knowledge and experiences, value and belief systems.

Adapted from Barthel et al. 2013

The variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part. This includes variation in genetic, phenotypic, phylogenetic, and functional attributes, as well as changes in abundance and distribution over time and space within and among species, biological communities and ecosystems.

Diaz et al. 2015. “The IPBES Conceptual Framework — Connecting Nature and People.” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 14: 1–16. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2014.11.002
Biodiversity hotspot

A generic term for an area high in such biodiversity attributes as species richness or endemism. It may also be used in assessments as a precise term applied to geographic areas defined according to two criteria: (i) containing at least 1,500 species of the world's 300,000 vascular plant species as endemics, and (ii) being under threat, in having lost 70% of its primary vegetation.

Myers et al 2000
Biodiversity loss

The reduction of any aspect of biological diversity (i.e. diversity at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels) is lost in a particular area through death (including extinction), destruction or manual removal; it can refer to many scales, from global extinctions to population extinctions, resulting in decreased total diversity at the same scale.

Biodiversity offset

A biodiversity offset is a tool proposed by developers and planners for compensating for the loss of biodiversity in one place by biodiversity gains in another.


Fuel made from biomass.


The mass of non-fossilized and biodegradable organic material originating from plants, animals and micro-organisms in a given area or volume.


Biomes are global-scale zones, generally defined by the type of plant life that they support in response to average rainfall and temperature patterns. For example, tundra, coral reefs or savannas.


The sum of all the ecosystems of the world. It is both the collection of organisms living on the Earth and the space that they occupy on part of the Earth’s crust (the lithosphere), in the oceans (the hydrosphere) and in the atmosphere. The biosphere is all the planet’s ecosystems.

Diaz et al. 2015. “The IPBES Conceptual Framework — Connecting Nature and People.” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 14: 1–16. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2014.11.002

All living organisms of an area; the flora and fauna considered as a unit .

The IPBES Bureau is a subsidiary body established by the Plenary which carries out the governance functions of the Platform. It is made up of representatives nominated from each of the United Nations regions, and is chaired by the Chair of IPBES.


Meat for human consumption derived from wild animals.

Bushmeat hunting

Bushmeat (or wild meat) hunting is a form of hunting that entails the harvesting of wild animals for food and for non-food purposes, including for medicinal use.

Adapted from definition of the Bushmeat Liaison Group under the Convention on Biological Diversity. See

The commercially undesirable species caught during a fishing process.