Technologies > City Biodiversity Index

City Biodiversity Index

In 2002, Conference of the Parties (COP) developed a Strategic Plan  to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional, and national level’. Since 1992, ten meetings of the  COP to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) have been held. COP-11 provided a unique platform to display, promote, interact, learn and network from each other’s experiences and knowledge relating to biodiversity. It has emphasised the importance of Biodiversity indices to quantify the changing biodiversity maps.

The drivers of Biodiversity degradation are many-fold. Human activities are the main driver behind the decline in biodiversity and result from a number of different threats. Habitat loss and degradation includes reductions in the quality or quantity of habitat available to species and is considered the single greatest threat to endangered species and overall biodiversity. Biodiversity has globally come under increasing pressure on account of factors such as habitat fragmentation, development imperatives, unsustainable consumption pattern and, more recently, global warming. Biodiversity degradation can cause unstable and lesser resilience to ecosystem providing products and services. This leads to food scarcity, fresh water degradation, and increasing temperature in cities all leading to unhealthy ecosystem.


To conserve biological diversity and to ensure the sustainable use of components of Biological diversity the COP meeting in 2008, held in Bonn, Germany proposed the idea of establishing the city biodiversity index (CBI) under the guidance of Convention of biological diversity. The idea was proposed by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan at the COP to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2008.

After expert level meetings since 2008, it is deliberated that CBI should comprise three components, that is:

(i) native biodiversity in the city,

(ii) ecosystem services provided by native biodiversity in the city, and

(iii) governance and management of native biodiversity in the city.

The first component focuses on different aspects of native biodiversity, in particular what native biodiversity are found in the city, how they are conserved, what are the threats to native biodiversity, etc. The second component concentrates on the ecosystem services provided by native biodiversity in the city, including those pertaining to regulation of water, carbon storage, and recreational and educational services. The third component is concerned with the governance and management of biodiversity, encompassing budget allocation, institutional set-ups, number of biodiversity-related projects, public awareness programmes, administrative procedures, etc. (Lena chan, 2012)

The index is not restricted to cities and can be applied at different scales. For example Singapore has used the index at the sub-city level, in the master planning of the new districts. Master planning of the country like Singapore also supported its real estate market representatives to comprehensively in development of real estate pricing index. There were 23 indicators that were considered in the development of the Singapore’s city biodiversity index. The indicators for the CBI (COP11, 2012; Lena chan 2012)

Indicator 1: proportion of natural areas in the city

Indicator 2: connectivity measures or ecological networks to counter fragmentation

Indicator 3: native biodiversity in built-up areas 

Indicators 4-8: change in vascular plants, birds, butterflies and any two of the number of native species of bryophytes, fungi, amphibians, reptiles, freshwater fish, molluscs, dragonflies, carabid beetles, spiders, hard corals, marine fish, seagrasses, sponges etc.

Indicator 9: proportion of protected natural areas 

Indicator 10: proportion of invasive alien species (as opposed to native species)

Indicator 11: regulation of quantity of water

Indicator 12: climate regulation: carbon storage and cooling effect of vegetation

Indicators 13-14: recreational and educational services

Indicator 15: budget allocated to biodiversity

Indicator 16: number of biodiversity projects implemented by the city annually 

Indicator 17: policy, rules and regulations – existence of local biodiversity

Indicators 18-19: institutional capacity

Indicators  20-21: participation and partnership

Indicators 22-23: education and awareness

Opportunities in real estate due to addressal of Biodiversity degradation can occur because of the additional budget allocations to conserve biodiversity. The opportunities that are significant spinoffs from the biodiversity conservation planning are information systems and technology used for land fragmentation planning, green roof construction methodology. Green roofs with adequate technology can aid conservation efforts by mitigating, although not entirely avoiding, the effects of habitat loss associated with urban development.

o “Creation of habitat for pollinating insects and other invertebrates

Three-quarters of flowering plants depend on pollinators for fertilisation. The global decline of pollinators (including birds, bats, and bees) is a significant concern that could damage dozens of commercially important crops. 

o Creation of stop over areas for migratory birds

The ability of migrants to replenish fat stores may be one of the most significant constraints faced by these birds during their migration. Green roofs designed with the needs of migratory birds in mind have the potential to provide relatively safe areas with a much lower potential exposure to mammalian predators (aerial predators such as raptors will still be an issue), leading to uninhibited foraging intensity.” (Carolyne Lane, 2009)


  • Carolyne Lane, (2009), “ Biodiversity and the Canadian commercial real estate industry”, Real property association of Canada 

  • Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological diversity “Progress report on the Singapore index on cities biodiversity”, UNEP/CBD/COP/11/INF/45, Eleventh meeting, Hyderabad, India, 8–19 October 2012

  • Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological diversity "Available guidance and guidelines on ecosystem restoration ", UNEP/CBD/COP/11/INF/17, Eleventh meeting, Hyderabad, India, 8–19 October 2012

  • Lena Chan and Wendy Yap “  User’s manual for the city biodiversity index, 18th April 2012, Singapore national parks board revised version on status of Singapore biodiversity index.