Many stakeholders, from governments to civil society to businesses, lack the data they need to make informed decisions on biodiversity, jeopardising efforts to conserve, restore and sustainably manage nature. Here we review the importance of enhancing biodiversity monitoring, assess the challenges involved and identify potential solutions. Capacity for biodiversity monitoring needs to be enhanced urgently, especially in poorer, high-biodiversity countries where data gaps are disproportionately high. Modern tools and technologies, including remote sensing, bioacoustics and environmental DNA, should be used at larger scales to fill taxonomic and geographic data gaps, especially in the tropics, in marine and freshwater biomes, and for plants, fungi and invertebrates. Stakeholders need to follow best monitoring practices, adopting appropriate indicators and using counterfactual approaches to measure and attribute outcomes and impacts. Data should be made openly and freely available. Companies need to invest in collecting the data required to enhance sustainability in their operations and supply chains. With governments soon to commit to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, the time is right to make a concerted push on monitoring. However, action at scale is needed now if we are to enhance results-based management adequately to conserve the biodiversity and ecosystem services we all depend on.
PJ Stephenson, MC Londoño-Murcia, PAV Borges, L Claasens, H Frisch-Nwakanma, N Ling, S McMullan-Fisher, JJ Meeuwig, KMM Unter, Judith Louise Walls, IJ Burfield, D do Carmo Vieira Correa, GN Geller, Paredes I Montenegro, LK Mubalama, Y Ntiamoa-Baidu, I Roesler, F Rovero, YP Sharma, N Wisesa Wiwardhana, J Yang, L Fumagalli