Conservation biology is a relatively new discipline that treats the content of biodiversity, the natural processes that produce it and the techniques used to sustain it in the face of human-caused environmental disturbance.
It involves, basically, surveying and documenting the biological diversity of a country, undertaking studies to assess its direct and indirect values, identifying the potential threats to biological diversity and determining how they may be countered.
Research activity should concentrate, among other things, on a better understanding of the threats to biodiversity (e.g. consequences of introduced species and GMOs, effects of bioprospecting, pollution of terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments, agricultural practices and land use change, etc.) At the same time researchers and the other actors involved have to be able to put values on biodiversity (incorporating ethical, cultural and other values, improving economic evaluation) and to develop specific indicators (particularly 'indicator sets' to measure the role and mechanisms of biodiversity for the functioning of ecosystems and their production capacity and at different scales). Last but not least, the constant theme in all activities is the need to resolve "conflicts" that may have a negative impact on biodiversity. As a result, research is called for to identify and help solve the factors that lead to conflicts (such as analysis of the attitudes of various groups to biodiversity) and to identify the most critical conflicts affecting biodiversity from local (e.g. reserve conflicts) to national and international scales.
Article 12 of the Convention for Biological Diversity entitled "Research and Training", states: The Contracting Parties, taking into account the special needs of developing countries, shall: (a) Establish and maintain programmes for scientific and technical education and training in measures for the identification, conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and its components and provide support for such education and training for the specific needs of developing countries; (b) Promote and encourage research which contributes to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, particularly in developing countries, inter alia, in accordance with decisions of the Conference of the Parties taken in consequence of recommendations of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice.