To maintain, conserve and manage biodiversity, we first need to understand it.
'Biodiversity' refers to the variety of life on Earth and the complex interactions that occur between all the living things that exist in a certain area and their environment.
To ensure that forests are healthy now and into the future, scientists need to understand them. So, scientists first identify the species that exist in a forest and look at how those species interact with each other and their environment. They then study those species over a period of time, and deepen their understanding of the way that forest works. Drawing on this information, they are able to develop management plans for the forest that will ensure its health and productivity now and in years to come.
This idea is the foundation of the work of the Smithsonian Institution's Monitoring and Assessment of Biodiversity Program (MAB).
The Smithsonian doesn't work alone in this program. It works with partners. These might be governments, universities, non-governmental organisations, other museums, businesses or local communities. The partners might come from anywhere in the world.
One of the MAB Program's projects is based at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site in Nova Scotia, Canada.