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.
Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of terrestrial radiation emitted by the earth’s surface, the atmosphere itself, and by clouds. This property causes the greenhouse effect. Water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. Moreover, there are a number of entirely human-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as the halocarbons and other chlorine- and bromine- containing substances, dealt with under the Montreal Protocol. Beside CO2, N2O and CH4, the Kyoto Protocol deals with the greenhouse gases sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).