Glossary of terms related to the CBD


Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)
a natural enemy of insects which was isolated from dead silk worms. This bacterium kills insects with the help of a protein, the so-called Bt-toxin. More than 50 Bt-toxins have been detected, each with its own characteristics. [CUB]
the cross of a hybrid with either of its parents (or a genetically equivalent individual). [CUB]
members of a group of diverse single-celled organisms; organisms lacking a nucleus. [CUB]
a group of viruses whose hosts are specifically bacteria. [CUB]
baseline data
fundamental units of basic inventory information that are crucial for biodiversity conservation planning and management. These are both biotic and abiotic and usually include: (1) the presence and/or abundance of species and other units; (2) other dependent biotic data (e.g. plant cover for macroarthropods); (3) the appropriate influential abiotic variables, and (4) human variables. [GBA]
living on or in the bottom (in contrast to pelagic).
organisms living on or in the bottom of oceans, seas, rivers, lakes and other water bodies. [JVG]
Depending on the size of the organisms, benthos is regarded as macrobenthos (organisms > 1000 m), meiobenthos (organisms between 42 m and 1000 m) and nanobenthos or microbenthos (organisms < 42 m). Depending on the depth distribution, benthos is regarded as epibenthos (living between low water line and 200 m depth), mesobenthos (living at depths between 200 and 1000 m), hypobenthos (living between 1000 and 2000 m) and abyssal benthos (living below 2000 m).
bequest value
value, defined by willingness to pay, to ensure that peoples' offspring or future generations inherit a particular environmental asset. [GBA]
Berlin Declaration  (under the biodiversity convention, CBD)
a global initiative for the promotion of sustainable tourism, Berlin, 8 March 1997.
Berlin Mandate  (under the climate change convention, UNFCCC)
adopted at  COP-1  (1995), the Berlin Mandate launched the talks that led to the adoption of the  Kyoto Protocol  (1997).
the determination of the activity or concentration of a chemical by its effect on the growth of an organism under experimental conditions. [CUB]
the degree of availability to biodegradation of pollutants in contaminated soil or land. [CUB]
an enzyme, used to catalyze a chemical reaction. [CUB]
a product produced by chemical reactions in living organisms. [CUB]
varied community of organisms living in the same small area, e.g. in the bark of a tree, on a wall, in a pond. [JVG]
the conversion of a compound from one form to another by the actions of organisms or enzymes; synonym: biotransformation. [CUB]
the microbially mediated process of chemical breakdown of a substance to smaller products caused by micro-organisms or their enzymes. [CUB]
is a synonym of biological diversity, see below. The contracted form 'biodiversity' was apparently coined by W.G. Rosen (1985) for the first planning meeting of the 'National Forum on Biodiversity' held in Washington DC (September 1986), the proceedings of which (E.O. Wilson and F.M. Peter, 1988) brought the notion of biodiversity to the attention of a wide field of scientists and others. [GBA]
Biodiversity Liaison Group
CBD Decision VII/26 (2) requests the formation of a Biodiversity Liaison Group in order to enhance coherence and cooperation in the implementation of the five biodiversity-related conventions (CBD, Ramsar, CITES, CMS, WHC). A potential role of the Biodiversity Liaison Group is to coordinate international reporting activities, with the support of appropriate international organisations and other experts.
energy made available by the combustion of materials derived from biological sources. [CUB]
the erosion of material such as coral rock and shells, that results from the direct action of living organisms such as boring sponges, fungi, worms, molluscs, or sea urchins.
the scientific study of the geographic distribution of organisms.
a scientific discipline that comprises all aspects of the gathering, storing, handling, analysing, interpreting and spreading of biological information. Involves powerful computers and innovative programmes which handle vast amounts of coding information on genes and proteins from genomics programmes. Comprises the development and application of computational algorithms for the purpose of analysis, interpretation, and prediction of data for the design of experiments in the biosciences. [CUB]
in molecular biology, a method developed to inject DNA into cells by mixing the DNA with small metal particles and then firing the particles into the host cell at very high speeds. [CUB]
biological control
- control of pests by using predators to eat them.
- pest control strategy making use of living natural enemies, antagonists or competitors and other self-replicating biotic entities. [FAO bis]
biological control agent
- the use of living organisms to control pests or disease. May be a single organism or a combination of a number of different ones. [CUB]
- a natural enemy, antagonist or competitor, and other self-replicating biotic entity used for pest control. [FAO bis]
biological diversity
- the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems. [CBD]
(Syn.: biodiversity)
It appears that the term 'biological diversity' was first defined as including two related concepts, genetic diversity (the amount of genetic variability within species) and ecological diversity (the number of species in a community of organisms) by Norse and McManus (1980). There are at least 25 more definitions of biological diversity. The one given on top is the definition used in the Convention text. Other definitions:
- the totality of genes, species, and ecosystems in a region or the world.
- the variety of life in all its forms, levels and combinations, encompassing genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity. [FAO]
- a variety or multiformity, the condition of being different in character or quality (R.Patrick,1983)
- the variety and variability among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur.
Diversity can be defined as the number of different items and their relative frequency. For biological diversity, these items are organized at many levels, ranging from complete ecosystems to the chemical structures that are the molecular basis of heredity. Thus, the term encompasses different ecosystems, species, genes, and their relative abundance (OTA, 1987).
- the variety of the world's organisms, including their genetic diversity and the assemblages they form. It is the blanket term for the natural biological wealth that undergirds human life and well-being. The breadth of the concept reflects the interrelatedness of genes, species and ecosystems (Reid & Miller, 1989).
- the wealth of life on earth including the millions of plants, animals, and micro-organisms as well as the genetic information they contain and the ecosystems that they create (AID, 1989).
- the variety of life and its processes (U.S. Forest Service, 1990).
- encompasses all species of plants, animals, and microorganisms and the ecosystems and ecological processes of which they are parts. It is an umbrella term for the degree of nature's variety, including both the number and frequency of ecosystems, species, or genes in a given assemblage (McNeely et al., 1990).
- the variety of life on all levels of organization, represented by the number and relative frequencies of items (genes, organisms and ecosystems (EPA, 1990).
- the variety of genes, genotypes and genepools and their relationships with the environment at molecular, population, species and ecosystem levels (FAO, 1990).
- the genetic, taxonomic and ecosystem variety in living organisms of a given area, environment, ecosystem or the whole planet (McAllister, 1991).
- the full range of variety and variability within and among living organisms and the ecological complexes in which they occur; encompasses ecosystems or community diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity (Pending legislation, U.S. Congres 1991).
- those environmental goals that go beyond human health concerns (Environmental Law Institute, Fischman, 1991).
- the variety of life and its processes. It includes the variety of living organisms, the genetic differences among them, and the communities and ecosystems in which they occur (Keystone Dialogue, 1991)
- the variety and variability of all animals, plants and micro-organisms on earth, - can be considered at three levels - genetic diversity (variability within species), species diversity, and habitat diversity (Overseas Development Administration, 1991).
- I suggest a fourth category - functional diversity - the variety of different responses to environmental change, especially the diverse space and time scales with which organisms react to each other and the environment (J. Steele, 1991).
- the totality of genes, species, and ecosystems in a region (WRI, IUCN and UNEP, 1992).
- the total variety of life on earth. It includes all genes, species and ecosystems and the ecological processes of which they are part (ICBP, 1992).
- full range of variety and variability within and among living organisms, their associations, and habitat-oriented ecological complexes. Term encompasses ecosystem, species, and landscape as well as intraspecific (genetic) levels of diversity (Fiedler & Jain, 1992).
- the variety of organisms considered at all levels, from genetic variants belonging to the same species through arrays of species to arrays of genera, families, and still higher taxonomic levels; includes the variety of ecosystems, which comprise both the communities of organisms within particular habitats and the physical conditions under which they live (Wilson, 1992).
- complex beyond understanding and valuable beyond measure, biodiversity is the total variety of life on Earth (Ryan, 1992).
- the structural and functional variety of life forms at genetic, population, species, community, and ecosystems levels (Sandlund et al., 1993).
- is the ensemble and the interactions of the genetic, the species and the ecological diversity, in a given place and at a given time (di Castri, 1995).
- is the ensemble and the hierarchical interactions of the genetic, taxonomic and ecological scales of organization, at different levels of integration (di Castri & Youns, 1996).
biological pesticide (biopesticide)
a generic term, not specifically definable, but generally applied to a biological control agent, usually a pathogen, formulated and applied in a manner similar to a chemical pesticide, and normally used for the rapid reduction of a pest population for short term pest control [FAO bis]
biological resources
includes genetic resources, organisms or parts thereof, populations, or any other biotic component of ecosystems with direct, indirect or potential use or value for humanity. (Syn.: biotic resources) [CBD]
vaccines, therapeutic serums, toxoids, antitoxins and analogous biological products used to induce immunity to infectious diseases or harmful substances of biological origin. [CUB]
all organic matter that derives from the photosynthetic conversion of solar energy. [CUB]
a major portion of the living environment of a particular region (such as a coniferous forest or grassland), characterized by its distinctive vegetation and maintained by local climatic conditions. [GBA]
- pesticide made from biological sources, that is from toxins which occur naturally.
- naturally occurring biological agents used to kill pests by causing specific biological effects rather than by inducing chemical poisoning. The idea is based on mimicking processes that arise naturally (e.g. protecting the coffee bean by its caffeine content), and is argued to be favorable to conventional chemical pesticides as it is more easily biodegradable and more target specific. A pesticide in which the active ingredient is a virus, fungus, or bacteria, or a natural product derived from a plant source. A biopesticide's mechanism of action is based on specific biological effects and not on chemical poisons. [CUB]
recombinant protein drugs, recombinant vaccines and monoclonal antibodies (for therapeutic roles). Biopharmaceuticals are still only a small part of the pharmaceutical industry, but of increasing importance. (See biologics.) [CUB]
bioprospecting regarded as the perpetuation of the colonial habit of plundering other countries' biological resources without fair and equitable compensation, resulting in environmental, economic and social detriment  (ref.: K. ten Kate, 1995. Biopiracy or Green Petroleum? Expectations & Best Practice in Bioprospecting. - Overseas Development Administration, Environment Policy Department, London).
any process that uses complete living cells or their components (e.g. enzymes, chloroplasts) to effect desired physical or chemical changes. [CUB]
entails the search for economically valuable genetic and biochemical resources from nature (ref.: K. ten Kate, 1995. Biopiracy or Green Petroleum? Expectations & Best Practice in Bioprospecting. - Overseas Development Administration, Environment Policy Department, London).
a contained vessel or other structure in which chemical reactions are carried out (usually on an industrial scale), mediated by a biological system, enzymes or cells. A bioreactor can range in size from a small container to an entire building. CUB]
a territory defined by a combination of biological, social, and geographic criteria, rather than geopolitical considerations; generally, a system of related, interconnected ecosystems. [GBA]
the use of biological agents to reclaim soils and waters polluted by substances hazardous to human health and/or the environment; it is an extension of biological treatment processes that have been used traditionally to treat wastes in which micro-organisms typically are used to biodegrade environmental pollutants. [CUB]
safety aspects related to the application of biotechnologies and to the release into the environment of transgenic plants and other organisms particularly microorganisms that could negatively affect plant genetic resources, plant, animal or human health, or the environment. [BSWG/2/5: FAO Draft International Code of Conduct for Plant Biotechnology as it Affects the Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources]
biosphere reserve
established under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, biosphere reserves are a series of protected areas linked through a global network, intended to demonstrate the relationship between conservation and development. [GBA]
the synthesis of molecules by living organisms or their components. [CUB]
all of the organisms, including animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms, found in a given area.
- any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use. [CBD]
- any technology that is applied to living organisms to make them more valuable to people.
pertaining to any aspect of life, especially to characteristics of entire populations or ecosystems.
biotic resources
see: biological resources
small area with uniform biological conditions (climate, soil, altitude, etc.).
the conversion of a compound from one form to another by the actions of organisms or enzymes; synonym: bioconversion. [CUB]
group of genetically identical individuals.
a sharp increase in density of phytoplankton or benthic algae in a given area.
Bonn guidelines
The Bonn guidelines on access to genetic resources and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from their utilization were adopted at COP-6 (CBD Decision VI/24). These Guidelines are making a useful contribution to the development of national regimes and contractual arrangements for access and benefit-sharing and to the implementation of the objectives of the Convention (CBD Decision VII/19 A.). The Bonn guidelines are available on the website of the CBD at the following URL:
a substance derived from plants; a vegetable drug, especially in its crude state. [CUB]
botanical medicine
a medicine of plant origin, in crude or processed form; used to represent herbal, or plant-based, medicines that are not consumed as isolated compounds (as are pharmaceuticals); includes single herb, herb combination, and herb combined with non-herbal ingredient products; delivery formats include capsules, tablets, herbal teas, extracts, tinctures, and bulk herbs. [CUB]
- a group of animals or plants related by descent from common ancestors and visibly similar in most characteristics. Taxonomically, a species can have numerous breeds.
- either a sub specific group of domestic livestock with definable and identifiable external characteristics that enable it to be separated by visual appraisal from other similarly defined groups within the same species or a group for which geographical and / or cultural separation from phenotypically similar groups has led to acceptance of its separate identity. [FAO]
breed at risk
any breed that may become extinct if the factors causing its decline in numbers are not eliminated or mitigated.
Breeds may be in danger of becoming extinct for a variety of reasons. Risk of extinction may result from, inter alia, low population size; direct and indirect impacts of policy at the farm, country or international levels; lack of proper breed organization; or lack of adaptation to market demands. Breeds are categorized as to their risk status on the basis of, inter alia, the actual numbers of male and / or female breeding individuals and the percentage of pure-bred females. FAO has established categories of risk status: critical, endangered, critical-maintained, endangered-maintained, and not at risk. [FAO]
breed not at risk
a breed where the total number of breeding females and males is greater than 1,000 and 20 respectively; or the population size approaches 1,000 and the percentage of pure-bred females is close to 100 percent, and the overall population size is increasing. [FAO]
broad spectrum
a pesticide which is active towards a wide variety of weeds or other pests; often used to describe an antibiotic that is effective against a wide range of micro-organisms. [CUB]
brown bag sales
sales by farmers to other farmers of seed they have saved. [CUB]
buffer zone
- the region near the border of a protected area.
- a transition zone between areas managed for different objectives.
is responsible for directing the work of the COP or of the SBSTTA. Its ten members are delegates elected by each of the five regional groups and they include,
- for the COP: the COP President, eight Vice-Presidents, and a rapporteur;
- for the SBSTTA: the SBSTTA Chair, eight Vice-Chairs, and a rapporteur.
incidental take; also called non-target species.

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