The 2020 update of the UK Biodiversity indicators has been published today (Thursday 15 October).
This is the 13th update of the UK Biodiversity Indicators. First published in 2007, the UK Biodiversity Indicators were produced to provide a measure for reporting on international goals and targets. The indicators have been published almost annually since then, and during that time have been refined and revised to ensure they continue to be based on the most robust and reliable available data, and that they remain relevant to changes to the international goals and drivers.
Indicators are useful tools for summarising and communicating broad trends. The UK Biodiversity Indicators are dependent on a wide variety of data, provided by government, research bodies, and the voluntary sector – in total nearly 100 organisations are involved. The presentation and assessment of the indicators is verified by the data providers, and the production and editing of the indicators is overseen by government statisticians.
The UK Biodiversity Indicators set comprises 24 indicators and 52 measures. In the 2020 update, 23 of the 42 measures assessed over the long term show an improvement, compared to 18 of the 39 measures that are assessed over the short term. Fourteen measures show a decline in the long term, and eight a decline in the short term. Measures that improved or deteriorated in the long term have not necessarily continued to improve or deteriorate respectively in the short term.
Key changes to the indicator set since the previous publication include:
- Methodological changes to the Pressure from climate change (Spring Index) indicator (B4) to allow more data to be used.
- Methodological changes to the Insects of the Wider Countryside indicator (C6), to take account of colonisation by species of new sites.
- Publication of a new Plants of the Wider Countryside indicator (C7), comprising four measures based on the National Plant Monitoring Scheme.
The new plant indicator is a set of four measures covering four UK broad habitat types: Arable field margins; Broadleaved woodland and hedges; Bog and wet heath; and Lowland grassland. Within each habitat, plant species abundance trends indicative of good condition, are averaged to provide an indication of the habitat’s current state. This indicator is based on the first five years of data collection under the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS), which launched in 2015. The UK Biodiversity Indicators project team is particularly pleased to publish this experimental statistic for the first time this year, and welcomes feedback on the novel methods used.
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, JNCC would like to thank all colleagues who have contributed to this publication; your efforts in such difficult times are greatly appreciated.