Glossary of terms related to the CBD


'Earth Summit', Rio de Janeiro
Popularly known as the 'Earth Summit', the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held on 3-14 June 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, marked the twentieth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972. Virtually every country in the world was represented (178) and more than 100 heads of state attended.
The participating world leaders signed five major instruments: The Rio Declaration (a statement of principles); Agenda 21 (a framework for activity into the 21st century addressing the combined issues of environment protections and fair and equitable development for all, and includes the creation of a new Commission for Sustainable Development); a Framework Convention on Climate Change; a Framework Convention on Biological Diversity; and a Statement of Principles on Forests.
ecological economics
a branch of economics that takes account of ecological principles and examines economic values of non-market ecological products and services.
ecological or ecosystem resilience
ecological resilience can be defined in two ways. The first is a measure of the magnitude of disturbance that can be absorbed before the (eco)system changes its structure by changing the variables and processes that control behaviour. The second, a more traditional meaning, is as a measure of resistance to disturbance and the speed of return to the equilibrium state of an ecosystem. [GBA]
ecological or ecosystem services
ecological or ecosystem processes or functions which have value to individuals or to society. [JVG]
the scientific study of the interactions of living organisms and their environment.
- a dynamic complex of plant, animal, fungal, and micro-organism communities and their associated non-living environment interacting as a functional unit; the organisms living in a given environment, such as a tropical forest, a coral reef or a lake, and the physical part of the environment that impinges on them. [GBA modified by JVG]
- a complex of organisms and their environment, interacting as a defined ecological unit (natural or modified by human activity, e.g. agroecosystem), irrespective of political boundaries. [FAO bis]
- a community of organisms in their physical environment.
ecosystem diversity
the diversity among biological communities and their physical settings, characterised by differences in species composition, physical structure, and function. It is the highest level of biological diversity.
ecosystem rehabilitation
the recovery of specific ecosystem services in a degraded ecosystem or habitat.
ecosystem restoration
the return of an ecosystem to its original community structure, natural complement of species, and natural functions.
travel undertaken to witness sites or regions of unique natural or ecologic quality, or the provision of services to facilitate such travel. [GBA]
edge effect
processes that characterize habitat fragmentation and the concomitant creation of edges.
El Niño event
a regional or global oceanic-atmospheric perturbation whose manifestations range from increased sea surface temperatures in the tropical East Pacific to aberrant rainfall patterns.
advanced germplasm in a breeding or crop improvement programme. [CUB]
endangered breed
a breed where the total number of breeding females is between 100 and 1,000 or the total number of breeding males is less than or equal to 20 and greater than five; or the overall population size is close to, but slightly above 100 and increasing and the percentage of pure-bred females is above 80 percent; or the overall population size is close to, but slightly above 1,000 and decreasing and the percentage of pure-bred females is below 80 percent. [FAO]
endangered-maintained breed
categories where critical or endangered breeds are being maintained by an active public conservation programme or within a commercial or research facility. [FAO]
native to and restricted to a specific geographic area.
entry into force
protocols and any amendments to them are not binding in international law until they have been ratified by an agreed number of countries. In the case of the CBD, ratification by 30 countries was needed for the treaty to enter into force. The CBD entered into force for the first 30 Parties on 29 December 1993. It enters into force for other Parties 90 days after each ratifies. [CUB]
environmental impact assessment (EIA)
process by which the consequences of proposed projects or programs are evaluated as an integral part of planning the project, alternatives are analysed, and the general public has ample opportunity to comment.
a protein which catalyses the conversion of a substrate to a product. Other than a few well-established enzymes such as papein and trypsin, most enzyme names can be recognised by the suffix -ase, e.g. cellulase, protease, etc. [CUB]
referring to the top 200 meters of the ocean, seas and lakes.
equilibrium theory
theory that suggests that under natural circumstances, species addition and loss are balanced, and furthermore, that displacement from the equilibrium value results in changes in speciation or extinction rate that tend to restore the system to its equilibrium state. [GBA]
application of phytosanitary [and other] measures to eliminate a pest from an area [FAO bis]
perpetuation, for the foreseeable future of a pest, or a biological agent, within an area after entry [FAO bis]
an ecosystem in which a river or stream meets ocean waters; characterised by intermediate or variable salinity levels and often by high productivity.
ethical values
statements of ethical principle that inform the private and social valuation of biological resources. [GBA]
study of the way plants, animals and micro-organisms are used by humans.
an organism whose DNA is enclosed in nuclear membranes. The vast majority of species (plants, animals, protista,...) are eukaryotic. (Opp.: prokaryote.) [JVG]
Europian Union
as a regional economic integration organisation, the European Union can be and is a Party to the Convention. However it does not have a separate vote from its members.
Under the CBD process, the 15 members (1995) of the European Union meet in private to agree on common positions for the negotiations. The country that holds the EU Presidency -a position that rotates every six months- then speaks for the group as a whole. Individual member states are allowed to make statements emphasising their specific points of view and priorities as long as they are not contradictory with the EU common position.
- nutrient enrichment, typically in the form of nitrates and phosphates, often from human sources such as agriculture, sewage, and urban runoff.
- process by which a lake, a river, part of a sea, etc. is enriched with nitrates, phosphates and other nutrients which favour the growth of algae and often kill other organisms by lack of oxygen. [JVG]
measurement of the characteristics that are important for production and adaptation, either of individual animals or of populations, most commonly in the context of comparative evaluation of the traits of animals or of populations. [FAO]
out of the original location. In conservation, often in a laboratory, collection, botanical garden, zoo, or aquarium. (Opposite: in-situ)
ex-situ conservation
- the conservation of components of biological diversity outside their natural habitats. [CBD]
- keeping components of biodiversity alive away from their original habitat or natural environment. [GBA]
ex situ conservation of farm animal genetic diversity
all conservation of genetic material in vivo, but out of the environment in which it developed, and in vitro including, inter alia, the cryoconservation of semen, oocytes, embryos, cells or tissues. Note that ex situ conservation and ex situ preservation are considered here to be synonymous. [FAO]
exclusive economic zone
that part of the marine realm seaward of territorial waters within which nations have exclusive fishing rights.
existence value
the value of knowing that a particular species, habitat or ecosystem does and will continue to exist. It is independent of any use that the valuer may make of the resource. [GBA]
(1) not native to a given area; either intentionally transplanted from another region or introduced accidentally.
(2) in plant breeding, it refers to plants types that are from outside a breeding region or exhibit traits that are uncommon to the prevalent crop plant type. [CUB]
exotic species
see: alien species.
still living at the present time. (Opposite: extinct)
external costs/externalities
external costs/benefits exist when an activity by one person causes a gain/loss of welfare to another person that is uncompensated within the market. [GBA]
no longer surviving. (Opposite: extant)
extinct breed
a breed where it is no longer possible to recreate the breed population. Extinction is absolute when there are no breeding males (semen), breeding females (oocytes), nor embryos remaining. [FAO]
the death of any lineages of organisms. Extinction can be local, (when it is known as extirpation) in which one population of a given species vanishes while others survive elsewhere, or total, in which all its populations vanish. [GBA]
extractive reserve
forest area for which use rights are granted by governments to residents whose livelihoods customarily depend on extracting forest products from the specified area.
extreme environments
environments characterised by extremes in growth conditions, including temperature, salinity, pH, and water availability, among others. [CUB]
a micro-organism whose optimum growth is under extreme conditions of temperature, etc. [CUB]

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Back to GLOSSARY title page (Convention on Biological Diversity)

Home > Glossary > E

Last updated  20-12-2004 .

© Belgian Clearing-House Mechanism, 2001.
On the Internet since 7 October 1996.
Contact us

Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences