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UK Biodiversity Action Plan

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP): 1992–2012

The UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) was published in 1994, and was the UK Government’s response to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which the UK signed up to in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. The CBD called for the development and enforcement of national strategies and associated action plans to identify, conserve and protect existing biological diversity, and to enhance it wherever possible.

History of the UK BAP

The UK was the first country to produce a national biodiversity action plan.  The UK BAP described the biological resources of the UK and provided detailed plans for conservation of these resources. Action plans for the most threatened species and habitats were set out to aid recovery, and national reports, produced every three- to five-years, showed how the UK BAP was contributing to the UK’s progress towards the significant reduction of biodiversity loss called for by the CBD.

To support the work of the UK BAP, the UK BAP website was created by JNCC in 2001. The website contained information on the BAP process, hosted all relevant documents, and provided news and relevant updates. In March 2011, as part of the UK government’s review of websites, the UK BAP site was ‘closed’, and the core content was migrated into the JNCC website. All of the content from the original UK BAP website has been archived by The National Archives (UK BAP website – March 2011).

Following the creation of the UK BAP, devolution, in 1998, led the four countries of the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) to develop their own country strategies for biodiversity and the environment, allowing conservation approaches to differ according to the different environments and priorities within the countries. In 2007, however, a shared vision for UK biodiversity conservation was adopted by the devolved administrations and the UK government, and is described in ‘Conserving Biodiversity – the UK Approach’ (PDF, 439kb). This document reflected the new top drivers for conservation action since the UK BAP was created, including the EU Gothenberg agreement in 2001 to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010, and the findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Additionally, it outlined the need for the four countries to work together to meet shared challenges and achieve common goals, and described the requirements for future work at a UK level. 

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The UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework

The 'UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework', published in July 2012, succeeds the UK BAP and 'Conserving Biodiversity – the UK Approach', and is the result of a change in strategic thinking following the publication of the CBD's 'Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020' and its 20 ‘Aichi Targets’, at Nagoya, Japan in October 2010, and the launch of the EU Biodiversity Strategy (EUBS) in May 2011. The Framework demonstrates how the work of the four countries and the UK contributes to achieving the Aichi Targets, and identifies the activities required to complement the country biodiversity strategies in achieving the Targets.

Following publication of the UK Biodiversity Framework, the UK BAP web-pages were further revised (in August 2012). Links to pages which are no longer of relevance have been re-directed, and an archived version (March 2012) of the UK BAP web-pages is available in The National Archives.

Relevant information and key documents are still available, including UK BAP species and habitat information.

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UK BAP Priority Species and Habitats

UK BAP priority species and habitats were those that were identified as being the most threatened and requiring conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP).  The original lists of UK BAP priority species and habitats were created between 1995 and 1999, and were subsequently updated in 2007, following a 2-year review of UK BAP processes and priorities, which included a review of the UK priority species and habitats lists.  More information is available in the Species and Habitats Review Report (PDF, 1.3Mb).

The aim of the 'Species and Habitats Review' was to ensure that the UK BAP lists of priority species and habitats remained up-to-date and focussed on the correct priorities.  This was the first full review of the lists, generated over 10 years previously, and provided an opportunity to take into account emerging new priorities, conservation successes, and the huge amount of new information that had been gathered since the original lists were created.  Selection of priority species and habitats for the priority lists followed consideration by expert working groups against a set of selection criteria, based on international importance, rapid decline, high risk, and habitats of importance for key species.  Following the review, the number of priority species increased from less than 600 to 1,150, and the number of priority habitats increased from 49 to 65.

As a result of new drivers and requirements, the 'UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework', published in July 2012, has succeeded the UK BAP.  In particular, due to devolution and the creation of country-level biodiversity strategies, much of the work previously carried out under the UK BAP is now focussed at a country level.  

The UK BAP lists of priority species and habitats remain, however, important and valuable reference sources.  Notably, they have been used to help draw up statutory lists of priority species and habitats in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (see NI species and NI habitats lists), as required under Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 (England), Section 7 of the Environment Act (Wales), Section 2(4) of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004, and Section 3(1) of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

More information is available on UK BAP priority species and habitats.

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