Research in Europe and worldwide has created a huge amount of information about the living things around us. As this information, in particular the newer developments, is, on the one hand, overwhelming and, on the other, very scattered, the ALARM consortium has decied to publish the Atlas of Biodiversity Risk to present an overview of a wide variety of research aspects relating to biological diversity and its major drivers. This was done in relation to contemporary and future threats biodiversity faces, in order to disentangle the driving forces of change and the role of humankind.
To achieve this, our atlas is not simply a collection of different maps. We follow the concept of thematic environmental atlases, where maps, figures, graphs and pictures are combined to tell multi-facetted stories.
There is no doubt among scientists and an increasing awareness in society that biological diversity is at great risk. The changes in species and ecosystems we are already experiencing - and which we may experience even more in the future - should therefore be our primary concern. The magnitude of the problems we face at global and local levels, however, should by no means paralyse our efforts to mitigate the negative impact of biodiversity loss. Conservation of biodiversity at all relevant scales can, however, be achieved only if society becomes involved and future generations are educated in such a way that protecting biodiversity becomes an integral part of their perception of the world.
That is why this atlas follows the concept of story-telling, i.e., for most of the major threats to and pressures on biodiversity we have tried to select relevant, current examples. We want to describe and illustrate them in a concise and useful way. We hope that the design of the Atlas and the objective language in which it is written make it suitable for use in public relations, as well as for teaching at different levels, such as high schools and universities.