Colour-coded targets would help clarify biodiversity priorities

In this International Year of Biodiversity, we should be setting ambitious but realistic targets for biodiversity policy over the next ten years. Those shaped at last month's sixth Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity in Norway will be refined by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice in May and at the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in October.

As participating scientists in the international biodiversity programme DIVERSITAS, we welcome the draft set of 2020 targets proposed by the CBD. But the targets continue to mix the biodiversity we value highly (that is, the conservation agenda) and the biodiversity we urgently need to secure the benefits people derive from fully functioning ecosystems.

To resolve competing demands, these different priorities should be made explicit by categorizing the targets according to their primary motivation. We suggest the use of red targets to stem urgent deleterious biodiversity loss, green targets for conservation priorities and blue targets to secure the long-term benefits from functioning ecosystems.

The CBD should work closely with the science community to develop these targets for changing environments and in the light of new scientific discoveries. The proposed Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (H. Mooney and G. Mace Science 325, 1474; 2009) and the global biodiversity observation system GEO BON (R. J. Scholes et al. Science 321, 1044–1045; 2008) will be valuable tools in this collaboration.

Author information



Additional information

Contributions to Correspondence may be submitted to . Please see the Guide to Authors at . Science publishing issues that may be of interest to authors are regularly featured at our blog Nautilus ( ), where we welcome comments and debate.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Larigauderie, A., Mace, G. & Mooney, H. Colour-coded targets would help clarify biodiversity priorities. Nature 464, 160 (2010).

Download citation


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing