Biodiversity is the variety of all life on Earth: genes, species and ecosystems. It includes all species of animals and plants, and the natural systems that support them. Biodiversity matters because it supports the vital benefits humans get from the natural environment. It contributes to the economy, health and wellbeing, and it enriches our lives.
The UK is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is committed to the biodiversity goals and targets (the 'Aichi targets') agreed in 2010 and set out in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The UK are committed to developing and using a set of indicators to report on progress towards meeting these international goals and targets. There are related commitments on biodiversity made by the European Union, and the UK indicators may also be used to assess progress with these.
Indicators are useful tools for summarising and communicating broad trends. They are not intended to incorporate all the relevant information available in the UK. They are best seen, as their name suggests, as indicative of wider changes. The UK biodiversity indicators formed a major part of the UK’s 6th National Report to the CBD in 2019, supplemented with other information relating to UK biodiversity and implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. In 2015, the JNCC produced an updated mapping of the indicators against both global and European biodiversity targets.
Indicators are one of the means by which the UK can communicate the results of monitoring and surveillance. The audience for indicators is extremely broad, from the general public to all parts of the private and public sectors.
The idea of a headline suite of indicators, easily understood and communicated to all, supported by additional data and background information to aid interpretation and provide more detail, has proved to be a robust model and the most effective solution for communicating such a breadth of information to such a wide audience. The UK approach to biodiversity indicators has been well received internationally and has helped to place the UK at the forefront of international work on this subject.
The UK biodiversity indicators have been developed in a co-operative fashion, with input from government, statutory agencies and public bodies, non-governmental organisations, and academic institutes. A series of Biodiversity Indicator Forum meetings have been held to debate issues and capture ideas from a variety of stakeholders.
The UK biodiversity indicators publication is designated as a National Statistics1 Compendium. The publication is overseen by government statisticians in Defra and is subject to review by the UK Statistics Authority and the Office for Statistics Regulation.
Much of the data collection and reporting undertaken by non-governmental organisations is already statistically robust. Government and its agencies and public bodies work with such organisations to ensure that methodologies and the reporting of results are meeting the standards in the Code of Practice for Statistics.
For more information visit UK Biodiversity Indicators 2019 where the most recent information is presented.
For more information about biodiversity and wildlife statistics released by Defra, visit the Defra website.
Previous versions of UK Biodiversity Indicators
The next major update is provisionally planned for Summer 2020.
- Summary version Indicator C9a: Animal Genetic Resources was corrected and updated 30 November 2016
- Online 2015 version
- Online only 2008 version (in the National Archives)
1Across government and linked bodies, very high importance is given to ensuring trustworthy statistics are produced to inform decision making and ensure accountability to the public. The Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 established the independent UK Statistical Authority which has statutory authority to oversee the standards for the production and dissemination of official statistics across government. The Authority has established a Code of Practice for Statistics and assesses compliance with this. This includes the monitoring of the pre-access rules which strictly limit who can see the final figures in advance of publication. Together, these set the standards for assuring that the statistics are produced objectively and impartially to high professional standards.