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Does the term “biodiversity” undermine biodiversity conservation?

August 26, 2010

I recently attended a media strategy workshop on biodiversity organised by the Netzwerk-Forum Biodiversitätsforschung. This is a network that links biodiversity research with wider German society ( The aim of the workshop was to discuss with media experts (i.e. print, radio and TV journalists) how to increase public awareness of the global biodiversity crisis.

For me, a key insight from the workshop was that the term “biodiversity” (which in German sounds very stiff) is too technical to be recognized by the public and politicians.  This prompted me to ask whether biodiversity is a poor term (though not from a scientific point-of-view) and is partly responsible for the public ignorance of the reality of biodiversity crisis?  Do we need to coin a better term?  It goes without saying that competition for media spaces gets stiffer every year.  Maybe what we need are good stories, sharp titles (I always admire the short titles in the Economist), as well as hard data and facts. A statement such as “the decrease of biodiversity is higher in freshwaters than in marine and terrestrial ecosystems” appears too vague and outside the box of everyday life to be successfully communicated.

I am very curious to get your opinion on get your comment on this topic.

Best wishes,


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