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The UK Terrestrial Biodiversity Surveillance Strategy

JNCC is currently reviewing the requirements of biodiversity evidence in the terrestrial environment and the surveillance it supports to help provide this evidence. We are currently developing a new strategy to guide decision making on our surveillance investment, and that of our partners.

As part of the review process JNCC has evaluated the value of its current terrestrial evidence programme. This was summarised in a paper to JNCC's Joint Committee.

The new surveillance strategy will be made available on this page once agreed. It will replace the surveillance strategy documents developed by JNCC from 2009, which were used to inform our biodiversity surveillance activity over the last decade. Some aspects of the previous surveillance strategy documents may still be useful to refer to, and are accessible below.

The 2009 UK Terrestrial Biodiversity Surveillance Strategy

These documents from JNCC’s 2009 surveillance strategy are provided for reference. Please note that some information is now out of date and will be superseded by JNCC’s new surveillance strategy.

Key strategy documents and ‘decision making guidance tools’

The UK Terrestrial Biodiversity Surveillance Strategy, 2009

The Surveillance Strategy was developed by JNCC to help the funders of surveillance to ensure that there is sufficient surveillance in place to meet three objectives:

  1. To measure status and trends of a framework of habitats, species, and their ecosystem functions
  2. To detect the impacts of pressures affecting biodiversity
  3. To assess the status of species and habitats covered by legislation and policy.

It was also designed to help all who plan surveillance activities or use results from surveillance schemes.

The Surveillance Framework

An important part of the strategy was an analysis of surveillance requirements; current coverage, gaps and overlaps; and recommendations for the future development of surveillance. The Surveillance Framework contains an analysis of surveillance in relation to each of the three surveillance objectives from the 2009 strategy.

Key Principles of the Surveillance Strategy

This paper outlines how the surveillance strategy sets out broad principles which can help to find solutions for individual requirements.

Surveillance Hierarchy

Once an evidence need has been identified, a key design question is the scale at which surveillance or research should be deployed. The hierarchy helps those who are commissioning or designing a surveillance scheme or research project to identify the appropriate scale for the activity. 

Prioritisation of surveillance for rare and scarce species using a ‘risk-based’ approach

There are many species that are not well covered by existing large-scale surveillance schemes. Additional surveillance may have to be commissioned in order to fulfil reporting obligations, or more generally to measure their status. With limited numbers of recorders and limited financial resources it is necessary to design this additional surveillance as efficiently as possible, so that species most likely to be declining are surveyed most frequently. This paper was designed as a tool to help those commissioning and designing surveillance to prioritise additional surveillance of species using a risk-based approach. In this way surveillance can be implemented where it is most needed in a cost-effective manner.

This paper was used to help assess species surveillance needs for UK BAP Priority species and for species included in the Annexes of the EU Habitats Directive.

Using the strategy to meet specific requirements

UK Habitats Directive Surveillance Approach

In 2009, JNCC and the country conservation agencies worked together to agree principles for deciding on the level of surveillance needed to meet the requirements of the EU Habitats Directive.

This document outlined the Directive requirements, roles and responsibilities, links to other requirements, and summarised how the country agencies assessed surveillance needs and put plans in place to meet them. It includes a list of 10 criteria agreed between JNCC and the country agencies to help decide on the surveillance needed.

The document also summarises the preferred approach at the time of writing for surveillance of the different species and habitats on the Directive in the UK.

Vegetation Workshop Report

The strategy framework identified a gap in vegetation sampling in the UK.

This document is a write up of a workshop held in 2008 on developing vegetation sampling.

Since then, JNCC has launched the National Plant Monitoring Scheme, with partners Plantlife, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Botanical Society of the British Isles.

Supporting UKBAP Species and Habitat Reporting

This document assessed the monitoring of UK Biodiversity Action Plan species and habitat, and recommended what would be needed to ensure adequate repeat sampling was in place.

Air Pollution and Climate Change Paper

This paper presented an initial analysis of data needs for understanding air pollution and climate change impacts, and considered the potential role of the Environmental Change Biodiversity Network.

Strategy development discussion papers

Developing the Rationale for Assessing Sampling Coverage in the UK Surveillance Strategy

This document was produced to support a workshop held in 2008 on developing the surveillance strategy. It considered how non-UK countries undertake surveillance, and how surveillance requirements can be assessed.

Assessment of the surveillance rationale and objectives

This document is a write up of a workshop held in 2008 on developing the surveillance strategy. It made suggestions for strategy communication, needs analysis, habitat surveillance and decision tools, such as the surveillance hierarchy.

Surveillance strategy review and revision, 2010

JNCC reviewed the surveillance strategy in December 2010 in a JNCC Committee paper. This paper considers the application of the strategy up to 2010, factors affecting the strategy, how it could be adapted to meet new requirements concerning ecosystem services and valuation, and the future of the strategy.

Refreshing JNCC’s surveillance and monitoring evidence role - 2013

This JNCC committee paper provide an update in 2013 to JNCC’s role in surveillance strategy, including a consideration of current UK requirements and challenges.

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