Agrobiodiversity tracker: Monitoring progress towards global targets

198 countries have committed to achieving the Convention for Biological Diversity’s Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) targets for global biodiversity conservation.

Our Agrobiodiversity Tracker presents free and publicly available data on agrobiodiversity to monitor global progress towards achieving the GBF targets.

Which countries are gaining, and which are losing, agrobiodiversity in production systems?

Relevant Global Targets:
  • GBF Target 10: Areas under agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry are managed sustainably.
  • Headline indicator 10.1: Proportion of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture.

Agrobiodiversity in production systems is the crops, livestock, fish, pollinators, soil biodiversity, pest control species, and other plants (e.g. flowers attracting pollinators, trees providing windbreaks), animals (e.g. large birds controlling bird and small mammal populations and maintaining ecosystem stability) and microorganisms (e.g. AMF boosting tree disease resistance), that actively and passively help maintain healthy and productive agroecosystems.

Agrobiodiversity in production systems can be measured in various ways. Crop diversity, avoided agrochemical use, and landscape complexity are indicators of biodiversity-friendly and resilient agricultural production (see box inset). Yet looking at individual indicators can make it hard to understand overall trends. To help solve this problem, we combine a few key indicators into an Agrobiodiversity Index that can be used for monitoring the coverage of biodiversity-friendly and sustainable production systems for GBF Target 10. We also provide data on individual indicators to allow users to dig deeper.

The graph shows how agrobiodiversity in production systems changes through time, as measured using the Agrobiodiversity Index (Jones et al. 2021). Here, changes in the index score through time indicate gains in agrobiodiversity, achieved either through an increase in the diversity of different crops produced or a reduction in pesticide applications per unit of agricultural land, minus any losses. Countries with a positive change are replacing agrobiodiversity faster than they are losing it, and therefore contributing to GBF Target 10. Countries with a negative change are losing agrobiodiversity faster than they are restoring it.

Note that the index does not consider the similarity of agrobiodiversity composition through time. This means it does not capture if a crop species or habitat type has been permanently lost (made extinct). For more on this topic, see Khoury et al. (2018).

Relationship between agrobiodiversity and sustainable land management

An increase in crop diversity positively affects biodiversity species richness and abundance (Sánchez et al. 2022) and multiple ecosystem services that support production systems, such as carbon storage, soil nutrient cycling, and water regulation (Tamburini et al. 2020, Beillouin et al. 2021). Landscape complexity is positively associated with insect and bird richness, abundance and evenness (Estrada-Carmona 2022) and recognised as vital to healthy ecosystem functioning (Garibaldi et al. 2021).

Index (0 to 100) showing levels of agrobiodiversity in agricultural production systems

No data 0-20 20-40 40-60 60-80 80-100
Country or region 1993 2021 Absolute Change Relative Change
Sub indicator Measurement Citation (short) Citation (long) Download Link License Type

How is crop diversity changing each year?

Crop diversity underpins multiple ecosystem services that support production systems (see inset box 1). Growing crops in combination has agronomic benefits that can reduce production costs boosting financial outcomes (Sánchez et al. 2022), while at the landscape level maintaining a diversity of crops makes it easier to develop short, carbon-friendly food supply chains that deliver nutritious foods, while strengthening connections between producers and consumers (Alletto et al. 2022). At the national level, changes in crop diversity are associated with more stable food production (Renard and Tilman, 2020). For these reasons, crop diversity on harvested land may be a good indicator of the sustainability of food production systems.

This graph shows how crop diversity changes through time, measured as the effective number of crops based on their harvested areas. Changes in crop diversity scores reflect the number of crops in production and their relative abundance. Increases in crop diversity could be related to 1) an increase in diversity of cultivated crops, or 2) more crops being recorded by countries and reported to FAO. Therefore countries showing positive trends are, as a minimum improving their monitoring systems, while many will also be boosting the diversity of crops on the ground with positive impacts on people, nature, and GBF Target 10.

What is the effective number of species?

The effective number of crop species is a measure of the true diversity of a community and represents the number of equally-common species required to give the diversity observed in the dataset of interest (Jost, 2006, Gatti et al. 2020). We calculated the effective species number from Gini-Simpson Index diversity scores. For example, a 100ha of cropland with 3 crop species covering 10 ha, 40 ha and 50 ha respectively, has a Gini-Simpson Index of 0.58. The effective species number is calculated as 1/(1-Gini-Simpson Index) = 2.4, meaning that if all crops are equally abundant on the land, there would be 2.4 different crop species present.

Crop diversity (effective number of species) at national level

No data 1-4.31 4.31-7.61 7.61-10.92 10.92-14.22 14.22-17.53
Country or region 1961 2021 Absolute Change Relative Change
Sub indicator Measurement Citation (short) Citation (long) Download Link License Type

Is pesticide use increasing or decreasing around the world?

Pesticides are effective at controlling crop pests and diseases at least in the short-run, but are extremely harmful to biodiversity. There is clear evidence that pesticide use has persistent negative effects on birds, wild plants, insects (Geiger et al. 2010) especially pollinators (Pisa et al. 2015), and soil fauna (Beaumelle et al. 2023). This has negative feedbacks on agricultural production because of the loss of biological pest control and pollination services (Desneux et al. 2007) and biological activity that maintains soil health (Beaumelle et al. 2023).

Here we show how pesticide use per hectare of arable land has changed through time. Arable land includes land defined by the FAO as land under temporary crops (double-cropped areas are counted once), temporary meadows for mowing or for pasture, land under market or kitchen gardens, and land temporarily fallow. Land abandoned as a result of shifting cultivation is excluded. Countries where pesticide use is decreasing over time are helping to remove this major driver of biodiversity loss, while countries with an increase in pesticide use are accelerating chemical-driven biodiversity loss.

Countries can accelerate the transition away from pesticides by incentivizing, training and supporting farmers to move away from chemical pesticides towards integrated pest and disease management based on varietal, species and ecosystem diversity and use of natural controls.

Pesticide use (kg per ha on arable land)

No data 10-37.61 2-10 1-2 0.5-1 0-0.5
Country or region 1990 2021 Absolute Change Relative Change
Sub indicator Measurement Citation (short) Citation (long) Download Link License Type