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The IPBES core glossary provides a standard definition for important terms of broad applicability to IPBES outputs. This core glossary does not replace the assessment-specific glossaries, but is complementary to them. It was developed by a glossary committee established for this purpose.

Indigenous and local knowledge systems

Indigenous and local knowledge systems are social and ecological knowledge practices and beliefs pertaining to the relationship of living beings, including people, with one another and with their environments. Such knowledge can provide information, methods, theory and practice for sustainable ecosystem management.

Indigenous peoples and local communities

Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) are, typically, ethnic groups who are descended from and identify with the original inhabitants of a given region, in contrast to groups that have settled, occupied or colonized the area more recently. IPBES does not intend to create or develop new definitions of what constitutes “indigenous peoples and local communities".

Indirect driver

See "driver".

Institutional failure

These are often catalogued as (i) law and policy failures (e.g., perverse subsidies), (ii) market failures (externalities in the use of public goods and services), (iii) organizational failure (e.g., lack of transparency and political legitimacy in decision making) and (iv) informal institutional failures (e.g., break of collective action norms due to erosion of trust.


Encompasses all formal and informal interactions among stakeholders and social structures that determine how decisions are taken and implemented, how power is exercised, and how responsibilities are distributed.

Instrumental value

See "values".

Integrated assessment models

See "models".

Integrated landscape management

Refers to long-term collaboration among different groups of land managers and stakeholders to achieve the multiple objectives required from the landscape.

Integrated pest management

Also known as Integrated Pest Control, it is a broadly-based approach that integrates various practices for economic control of pests (q.v.). Integrated pest management aims to suppress pest populations below the economic injury level (i.e., to below the level that the costs of further control outweigh the benefits derived). It involves careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and then integration of appropriate measures to discourage development of pest populations while keeping pesticides and other interventions to economically justifiable levels with minimal risks to human health and the environment. Integrated pest management emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agroecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.

Integrated valuation

See "values".

Intensive grazing lands

Those that are managed intensively for livestock production with few other uses of the land and cover approximately 9% of global grazing lands.

Intervention scenarios

See "scenarios".

Intrinsic value

See "values".

Invasive alien species

Species whose introduction and/or spread by human action outside their natural distribution threatens biological diversity, food security, and human health and well-being. “Alien” refers to the species’ having been introduced outside its natural distribution (“exotic”, “non-native” and “non-indigenous” are synonyms for “alien”). “Invasive” means “tending to expand into and modify ecosystems to which it has been introduced”. Thus, a species may be alien without being invasive, or, in the case of a species native to a region, it may increase and become invasive, without actually being an alien species.

Invasive species

See "Invasive alien species".

IPBES Conceptual Framework

The Platform’s conceptual framework has been designed to build shared understanding across disciplines, knowledge systems and stakeholders of the interplay between biodiversity and ecosystem drivers, and of the role they play in building a good quality of life through nature’s contributions to people (see diagram below).

IUCN Habitats Classification Scheme

Classification Schemes (formerly referred to as Authority Files) are a set of standard terms developed for documenting taxa on the IUCN Red List in order to ensure global uniformity when describing the habitat in which a taxon occurs, the threats to a taxon, what conservation actions are in place or are needed, and whether or not the taxon is utilized.

IUCN protected area category

IUCN protected area management categories classify protected areas according to their management objectives.

Key Biodiversity Areas

Sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity. They represent the most important sites for biodiversity worldwide, and are identified nationally using globally standardised criteria and thresholds.

Knowledge systems

A body of propositions that are adhered to, whether formally or informally, and are routinely used to claim truth. They are organized structures and dynamic processes (a) generating and representing content, components, classes, or types of knowledge, that are (b) domain-specific or characterized by domain-relevant features as defined by the user or consumer, (c) reinforced by a set of logical relationships that connect the content of knowledge to its value (utility), (d) enhanced by a set of iterative processes that enable the evolution, revision, adaptation, and advances, and (e) subject to criteria of relevance, reliability, and quality.

Land degradation

Refers to the many processes that drive the decline or loss in biodiversity, ecosystem functions or their benefits to people and includes the degradation of all terrestrial ecosystems.

Land sharing

A situation where low-yield farming enables biodiversity to be maintained within agricultural landscapes.

Land sparing

Land sparing, also called "land separation" involves restoring or creating non-farmland habitat in agricultural landscapes at the expense of field-level agricultural production - for example, woodland, natural grassland, wetland, and meadow on arable land. This approach does not necessarily imply high-yield farming of the non restored, remaining agricultural land. See also "Conservation agriculture".

Land use

The human use of a specific area for a certain purpose (such as residential; agriculture; recreation; industrial, etc.). Influenced by, but not synonymous with, land cover. Land use change refers to a change in the use or management of land by humans, which may lead to a change in land cover.

Land use change

See "Land use".


An area of land that contains a mosaic of ecosystems, including human-dominated ecosystems.

Landscape composition

The abundances of patch types represented within a landscape. Composition is not spatially explicit because it refers only to the variety and abundance of patch types, but not their placement or location (dispersion) in the landscape.

Landscape configuration

The distribution, size and abundances of patch types represented within a landscape. Configuration is spatially explicit because it refers not only to the variety and abundance of patch types, but also to their placement or location (dispersion) in the landscape.

Landscape planning

An activity concerned with reconciling competing land uses while protecting natural processes and significant cultural and natural resources.


The dissolution and movement of dissolved substances by water.

Level of resolution

Degree of detail captured in an analysis. A high level of resolution implies a highly detailed analysis, usually associated with finer spatial and temporal scales. A low level of resolution implies a less detailed analysis, usually associated with coarser spatial and temporal scales.

Living in harmony with nature

Within the context of the IPBES Conceptual Framework – a perspective on good quality of life based on the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and elements of nature. It implies that we should live peacefully alongside all other organisms even though we may need to exploit other organisms to some degree.

Mainstreaming biodiversity

Mainstreaming, in the context of biodiversity, means integrating actions or policies related to biodiversity into broader development processes or policies such as those aimed at poverty reduction, or tackling climate change.


Group of trees and shrubs that live in the coastal intertidal zone. Mangrove forests only grow at tropical and subtropical latitudes near the equator because they cannot withstand freezing temperatures.


A quantitative statistical analysis of several separate but similar experiments or studies in order to test the pooled data for statistical significance.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is a major assessment of the human impact on the environment published in 2005.