A glossary of definitions for terms relating to biodiversity, ecosystems services and conservation.
All definitions are referenced, where possible preference has been given to internationally recognised definitions (for example those defined by international conventions or agreements). The terms have been chosen to support understanding of biodiversity and conservation issues, and terms relating to biodiversity loss are complemented by those relating to conservation responses supported by international conservation organisations, governments, scientists and business sectors.
More detailed explanations are provided for a number of key terms, to provide further background information.
The terms can be filtered by category to aid in the navigation of the many definitions.
The process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. An ecosystem has recovered when it contains sufficient biotic and abiotic resources to continue its development without further assistance or subsidy. It would sustain itself structurally and functionally, demonstrate resilience to normal ranges of environmental stress and disturbance, and interact with contiguous ecosystems in terms of biotic and abiotic flows and cultural interactions.
IPBES has defined restoration as “any intentional activity that initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem from a degraded state” (2019). This definition covers all forms and intensities of the degradation state and, in this sense, is inclusive of the definition adopted by the Society for Ecological Restoration.
Ecosystem restoration means “assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact”. Restoration can happen in many ways – for example, through actively planting or by removing pressures so that nature can recover on its own. It is not always possible – or desirable – to return an ecosystem to its original state.