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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 All of the content from the original UK BAP website has been archived by The National Archives (UK BAP website – March 2011).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 Biodiversity Framework

In 2024 a new UK Biodiversity Framework was published, following agreement of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) in December 2022. A key task set out in the framework was the production of the UK’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) to summarise targets and actions across the UK to meet the GBF.

The 2024 UK Biodiversity Framework replaces the 'UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework', published in July 2012, which itself succeeded the UK BAP and 'Conserving Biodiversity – the UK Approach'. The post-2010 framework was 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 demonstrated how the work of the four countries and the UK contributes to achieving the Aichi Targets, and identified the activities required to complement the country biodiversity strategies in achieving the Targets.

Following publication of the UK Post 2010 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 via The National Archives website.

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 Report on the Species and Habitat Review.

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 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 EnglandScotlandWales 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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Timeline (up to 2012)

 

2012

'UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework' published (17 July 2012).

'UK Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket 2012' (PDF, 1.25Mb) published (29 May 2012).

Launch of BARS 2 (April 2012).

Replacement of BRIG and UKBPSC with a revised Four Countries' Biodiversity Group (4CBG). Proposed Terms of Reference for the Four Countries' Biodiversity Group produced

2011 Letter sent to UK HAP and SAP group chairs and lead partners following a meeting of the UK BP Standing Committee (UKBPSC), confirming that the UK HAP and SAP groups are no longer accountable at a UK level (8 November 2011).

Publication of England's biodiversity strategy - 'Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England's wildlife and ecosystem services' (19 August 2011).

Publication of England's Natural Environment White Paper – 'The Natural Choice' (7 June 2011).

Launch of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) (2 June 2011).

'UK Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket 2011' (PDF, 1.3Mb) published (20 May 2011).
Publication of the EU Biodiversity Strategy (3 May 2011).

Scotland's first Land Use Strategy published (17 March 2011)...

2010 CBD CoP 10 meeting held in Nagoya, Japan in October, resulting in The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020, and the creation of 20 targets for 2020 (the 'Aichi Targets').

Dissolution of the UK Habitat Groups, following a review of the groups involved with the UK BAP.
'UK Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket 2010' (PDF, 998kb) published.
2008 UK BAP Report published.
UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference held in Stirling, Scotland.
The UN International Year of Biodiversity

2009  UK Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket 2009' published.

CBD 4th National Report published.
UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference held in York, England.

Peak Ecology Report 'Mechanisms for filling knowledge gaps for Biodiversity Action Plan Species' (PDF, 469kb), with an underpinning spreadsheet (Workshop Appendix), published (January)

2008 Planning for implementation of conservation action for the UK List of Priority Species and Habitats.

2008 Reporting Round.

Formation of the UK Habitat Groups, following the review of UK BAP and the publication of 'Conserving Biodiversity - the UK Approach'.

'UK Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket 2008' published (online-only version, available in The National Archives).
UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference in Aberystwyth, Wales.

2007 Publication of the Species and Habitats Review Report. This report described the 1,150 priority species and 65 priority habitats identified during the review, and the processes used to identify them. The aim of the review was to ensure that the UK BAP list of priority species and habitats remained focussed on the correct priorities for action. This was the first full review of the UK BAP list, generated over 10 years earlier in 1995, and provided an opportunity to take into account emerging priorities, conservation successes and the large amount of new information that had been gathered since the original list was created.

'UK Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket 2007' published (PDF, 2.7Mb).
UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference held in Aviemore, Scotland.
Publication of 'Conserving Biodiversity – the UK Approach' (PDF, 439kb), a shared vision for UK biodiversity conservation, adopted by the devolved administrations. This document was published partly in response to the publication of the country strategies produced by the four countries of the UK (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales) following devolution. It set out the future shared priorities for UK conservation, and the responsibilities at UK- and country-levels.

2006

Publication of the Environment Strategy for Wales.
Review of BRAG conducted.
Review of priority species and habitats on-going.

Publication of the revised species targets and habitats targets.
Publication of the 2005 Reporting Round Results ('Highlights from the 2005 reporting round') (PDF, 753kb).
UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference held in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

2005 Data gathering for the 2005 Reporting Round and the Targets and Species and Habitats Review work continues.
CBD 3rd National Report published.
UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference held in Bristol, England.
2004 Establishment of the BRIG working groups to undertake a review of the UK BAP, including: (1) plan the UK BAP 2005 reporting round; (2) review the priority species and habitat lists; and (3) review the action plan targets.

Publication of the Scotland Biodiversity Strategy 'It’s in your hands'.
Publication of Plant Diversity Challenge – the UK’s response to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

Launch of the first version of BARS (Biodiversity Action Reporting System).

UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference held in Cardiff, Wales.

2003

Establishment of the UK Biodiversity Partnership, the UK Biodiversity Partnership Standing Committee (UKBPSC) and its two support groups – the Biodiversity Research Advisory Group (BRAG) and the Biodiversity Reporting and Information Group (BRIG).
Publication of the 2002 Reporting Round Results ('Tracking progress – Highlights from the 2002 Reporting Round') (PDF, 491kb).

First UK Biodiversity Partnership Conference held in Perth, Scotland.

2002 The 'Government response to the Millennium Biodiversity Report' (PDF, 111kb) proposed a new UK BAP structure comprising a UK Biodiversity Partnership, and a UK Biodiversity Partnership Standing Committee assisted by two advisory groups, the Biodiversity Reporting and Information Group and the Biodiversity Research Advisory Group.
2001

Sustaining the variety of life: 5 years of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan' published after the first UK BAP reporting round in 1999, known as the 'Millennium Biodiversity Report'. In addition to reporting on progress, the MBR also made recommendations to government about changes to the UK BAP structure to reflect its progress and evolving responsibilities.

CBD 2nd National Report published.

Launch of the UK BAP website, to support the work of the secretariat and to publish relevant documents and information.

1996–1999 Tranche 2 Species and Habitat Action Plans published (6 volumes): 'Volume 1: Vertebrates and Vascular Plants' (PDF, 964kb), 'Volume 2: Terrestrial and Freshwater Habitats' (PDF, 718kb), 'Volume 3: Plants and Fungi' (PDF, 1.2Mb), 'Volume 4: Invertebrates' (PDF, 1.4Mb), 'Volume 5: Maritime Species & Habitats' (PDF, 2.4Mb), 'Volume 6: Terrestrial & Freshwater Species and Habitats' (PDF, 535kb)
1998 Devolution of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
CBD 1st National Report published.
1996 Formal Government response to the UK Biodiversity Steering Group report published – 'Government Response to the UK Steering Group Report on Biodiversity' – and the UK Biodiversity Group established in place of the Steering Group, supported by individual country biodiversity groups (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland), and a National Targets Group, an Information Group, and a Local Issues Group
1995

UK Biodiversity Steering Group published 'Biodiversity: the UK Steering Group Report Volume 1: Meeting the Rio Challenge' and 'Volume 2: Action Plans (Tranche 1 Species and Habitat Action Plans)'.  The Steering Group report established the framework and criteria for identifying the species (originally 1,250 in number) and the habitat types of conservation concern.

Pilot projects were also undertaken to develop Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPS).

Publication of 'Conserving Britain's Biodiversity', a report of the Statutory Nature Conservation Agencies' contribution under the UK BAP'

1994 UK Government produced 'Biodiversity: the UK Action Plan' and established the UK Biodiversity Steering Group to implement the UK BAP. The UK was the first country to produce a national biodiversity action plan. The UK BAP contained a list of 59 broad targets for the Government and its nature conservation agencies, in partnership with others, to conserve, and where practicable, to enhance wild species and wildlife habitats over the next 20 years. These targets were referred to as the '59 steps'.
1993 Convention on Biological Diversity adopted (29 December). The CBD called for governments to enforce national strategies and action plans to conserve, protect and enhance biodiversity.
1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) signed by 159 governments, including the UK. This was the first treaty to provide a legal framework for biodiversity conservation, and called for the creation and enforcement of national strategies and action plans to identify, conserve and protect existing biological diversity, and to enhance it wherever possible.

 

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Published: .

Pages in UK Biodiversity Action Plan

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