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Indicator development plan

Reviewing indicators

During 2022, the Biodiversity Indicators production team conducted a review of the UK and England indicators. The indicators have each been developed at different times, by different teams of experts and have continued to evolve in different ways over time. As such some inconsistencies existed, and it wasn’t fully clear to what extent each indicator adhered to the Code of Practice for Statistics and the 3 pillars of Trustworthiness, Value and Quality.

Each indicator was reviewed against the Code of Practice for Statistics and the statistical methods used were reviewed to check for consistency and suitability. The findings from these reviews have informed a development plan for each indicator, which we are publishing here to encourage input from our users and data providers.

Development plan for the Biodiversity Indicators as a whole:

  1. Review and update desk instructions for each of the indicators. Included in this, is ensuring our data providers have adequate desk instructions.
  2. Develop a consistent, ideally Reproducible Analytical Pipeline (RAP) based workflow, minimising the potential for human error.
  3. Review the mechanisms for gathering data. Automation may be able to help in some instances.
  4. Improve the commentary for all appropriate indicators, simplify the language used to be accessible to a lay audience, avoid the use of jargon and terminology. Review consistency in the language used across all indicators.
  5. Develop technical documents for all appropriate indicators, seek to simplify the commentary by moving technical content to the technical document.
  6. Review the approach and consistency of the assessment methods applied across indicators including the length of time series, the need for a medium-term assessment, value of the latest-year assessment, use of smoothing, use of 3% rule of thumb and threshold for change.


Development plans for individual indicators

A1 and England 13 – Awareness, understanding, and support for conservation

  • this indicator is not currently being updated, and so will likely change when the source data for England is updated;
  • the potential to align the questions across the 4 countries should be explored.

A2 and England 14a – Conservation volunteering

  • data quality issues do need some attention, given the difficulties obtaining data and their limitations (some organisations can’t split out England from UK);
  • consider potential other sources of data for this indicator elsewhere, potentially People And Nature Survey (PANS) data.

England 14b – Households encouraging wildlife in their garden

  • the suitability of using PANS data for this indicator needs to be assessed;
  • consider the possibility of maintaining the time series by calibrating between MENE and PANS.

A4 and England 17 – Global biodiversity impacts of UK consumption

  • simplify the commentary.

A5 – Integration of biodiversity considerations into business activity

  • check the suitability of the data and investigate if there’s a better source;
  • review the methods for calculating the indicator;
  • consider creating a technical document.

England 16 – Integrating biodiversity considerations into local decision making

  • investigate ways to improve the response rate and reliability of the data;
  • investigate ways to reduce the burden on data providers and the indicators production team.

B1a and England 22a – Area of land in agri-environment schemes

  • collaborate with Environmental Land Management Scheme teams over data collection relevant to this indicator;
  • investigate whether potential use of the data published in Agriculture in the UK would improve consistency;
  • collaborate with farming colleagues over agri-environment schemes, in the devolved administrations in particular;
  • consider including the total area of agricultural land and using a proportion, ideally the presentation of this indicator would be consistent with B1b and England 22b;
  • create a technical document to contain much of the ‘background’ information and expand in places;
  • consider altering assessment time scale.

B1b and England 22b – Area of forestry land certified as sustainably managed

  • consider altering the assessment time scale;
  • consider alternative chart types.

B2 and England 23 – Sustainable fisheries: fish stocks harvested within safe limits

  • review the language used in this indicator and how it is presented alongside the Sustainable Development Goals indicator;
  • consider creating a technical document.

B4 and England 18 – Climate change impacts (Spring Index)

  • engage with data providers and users to consider developing an autumn index;
  • reduce repetition between the commentary and technical document.

B5a and England 19a – Trends in pressures on biodiversity: Air pollution

  • review the language used and consistency across the England and UK commentaries.

B5b and England 19b – Trends in pressures on biodiversity: Marine pollution

  • consider creating a technical document;
  • review methods with data providers to consider if rainfall can be incorporated.

B6 and England 20 – Trends in pressures on biodiversity: Invasive species

  • review the presentation of this indicator to consider if the amalgamated 10 year counts can be changed to annual.

B7 and England 21 – Surface water status

  • review the methodology for data collection with the data providers;
  • consider consistency between this indicator and that in the Outcome Indicator Framework;
  • improve signposting within the commentary to other similar indicators.

C1 and England 1 – Extent and condition of protected areas

  • consider creating an England technical document;
  • consider incorporating a new condition measure using OSPAR data which JNCC are working on for a new global level indicator (extent);
  • consider incorporating marine sites condition data for Outcome Indicator Framework D2;
  • investigate obtaining protected area condition data from Wales;
  • investigate if protected area definitions can be harmonised between UK and England BIs;
  • condition data are changing from area based to feature based, review how to incorporate these changes with data providers;
  • consider if the short-term assessment for the condition indicator should be longer than 5 years.

C2 and England 3 – Habitat Connectivity

  • work towards ensuring the availability of these data in the future with UKCEH;
  • investigate alternative data sources such as Living England, this is relevant to habitat connectivity;
  • consider creating a technical document to simplify the commentary.

England 2a – Status of threatened habitats

  • investigate alternative sources of extent data;
  • if extent data cannot be updated more regularly consider making the condition data the headline indicator;
  • consider creating a technical document.

C3a and England 2b – Status of threatened habitats: habitats of European importance

  • clarify with users the need for this indicator now the UK has left the European Union.

C3b and England 4c – Status of threatened species: species of European importance

  • clarify with users the need for this indicator now the UK has left the European Union.

C4 and England 4 – Status of priority species: relative abundance and distribution

  • work to harmonise species representativeness and taxonomic groupings;
  • reduce the repetition between the commentary and technical document.

C5 and England 5, 6, 7 and 8 – Birds

  • work to simplify the workflow where possible;
  • unify commentary between England and UK publications.

C6 and England 5 and 6 – Butterflies

  • consult with data providers to review the time periods of the assessment;
  • review the inconsistent groupings between England and UK publications, taxonomic versus habitat.

C7 and England 5 and 6 – Plants

  • review methodological feedback from UKCEH;
  • decide a time frame and work to remove official statistics in development badge;
  • develop an assessment for this indicator;
  • consider removing the old indicator data and details.

C8 and England 5 – Bats

  • work with Bat Conservation Trust to review the presentation of variability;
  • review the title of this indicator, consider if it should refer to bats explicitly since no other mammals are included;
  • review the timescales used for the assessments;
  • work with data providers to review and update the technical documents.

C9a and England 12a – Genetic resources for food and agriculture: animal genetic resources

  • review the commentary with a particular focus on reducing repetition;
  • consider if there is a more appropriate chart type;
  • review the methodology of this indicator, compare it with the Scottish indicator which reports on genetic diversity of wild species, this method could be applied at England or UK levels. It will also be important to align with CBD targets.

C9b and England 12b – Genetic resources for food and agriculture: plant genetic resources

  • finalise the new method with Plant Genetic Resources Group and update indicator.

D1a and England 11 – Biodiversity and ecosystem services: Fish size classes in the North Sea

  • where possible seek to improve the geographical coverage of this indicator;
  • consider developing a technical document.

D1b and England 9 – Biodiversity and ecosystem services: Removal of greenhouse gases by UK forests

  • consider creating a technical document.

D1c and England 10 – Biodiversity and ecosystem services: pollination

  • simplify the workflow where possible.

E1 and England 24 – Biodiversity data for decision making

  • review which of the data we present is most suited as the headline measure;
  • where possible simplify the language used.

E2 and England 15 – Funding for biodiversity

  • review method of calculating this indicator;
  • this indicator is very heavily influenced by agri-environment spend and the associated assumption that 70% relates to biodiversity, review this assumption with data experts;
  • seek to simplify the data collection process for this indicator.



UK Biodiversity Indicators

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