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A1. Awareness, understanding and support for conservation

Type: Response indicator

Introduction

This indicator addresses awareness of biodiversity and understanding of its value, concern about biodiversity loss, as well as support for performing actions that can help to conserve it. The indicator uses a hierarchical system to group people in the UK according to the extent to which they are aware of the threat to biodiversity in the UK, their level of concern about the loss of biodiversity and the number and type of actions they take to support and protect it.

Key results

In 2018, 11% of people surveyed were highly engaged with biodiversity loss in the UK. These people stated that they were aware of the threat to UK biodiversity, they were concerned about the loss of biodiversity and they undertook actions that help to support and protect biodiversity. At the other end of the scale, 31% of people surveyed stated that they were not aware of a threat to biodiversity in the UK.

Figure A1i. Public engagement with biodiversity loss: awareness, concern and action, 2014, 2017 and 2018.

The 100% stacked bar chart shows the percentage of respondents for public engagement with biodiversity loss: concern and action in the UK for the years 2014, 2017 and 2018.  The levels of engagement shown on the 100% stacked bar chart are categorised as: not aware, not engaged, some engagement and high engagement.

Notes:

  1. Groups are defined as: ‘not aware’; ’not engaged’; ‘some engagement’; and ‘high engagement’, according to responses to survey questions concerning engagement with biodiversity loss, as described in the background section below.
  2. Data are weighted based on the relative population size of each country.
  3. This indicator is built from survey results obtained separately by each of the four countries in the UK - which each run surveys in a slightly different manner. Some changes have occurred to the surveys over time.
  • England run the Monitor of Engagement in the Natural Environment survey annually.
  • Scotland run the Scottish Nature Omnibus Survey every two years. Data from the 2017 survey has been used in this publication and carried forward to calculate a UK 2018 total.
  • Wales run an annual survey. Data relating to this indicator used to come from the Wales Outdoor Recreation Survey (WORS). The WOR Survey was discontinued in 2015. Sections of WORS were incorporated into the new National Survey for Wales, but not a direct transcription of the questions previously used for this indicator, so the data for Wales for 2014 from WORS have been carried forward into the UK totals for 2017 and 2018.
  • Northern Ireland run an annual survey, the Continuous Household Survey (CHS). The specific questions relating to this indicator ceased being asked in the CHS 2015/16, so the data from the CHS 2014/15 have been carried forward into the UK totals for 2017 and 2018.

Assessment of change in the percentage of people highly engaged with the issue of biodiversity loss

  Long term Short term Latest year
Percentage of people highly
engaged
Insufficient or no comparable data Insufficient or no comparable data Not assessed

Note: There are currently insufficient data points available for this indicator to carry out any assessments. See Assessing indicators.

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Indicator description

In 2018, 11% of respondents in the UK were highly engaged with the issue of biodiversity loss compared with 5% in 2014. These are people who are aware of the threat to biodiversity in the UK, are concerned about the loss of biodiversity, and take actions to support and protect biodiversity, including some requiring higher effort.

In 2018, 49% of respondents in the UK showed some engagement with the issue of biodiversity loss compared with 42% in 2014. These are people who are aware of the threat to biodiversity in the UK, are concerned about the loss of biodiversity and take some ‘day-to-day’ actions to support and protect biodiversity.

In 2018, 10% of respondents were aware of the threat to biodiversity but were not concerned about it compared with 12% in 2014.

In 2018, 31% of survey respondents stated that they were not aware of the threat to biodiversity in the UK compared with 40% in 2014.

Data for this indicator are sourced from questions on awareness of, concern for, and actions taken, to prevent biodiversity loss. These questions have been incorporated into surveys running in the four countries of the UK.

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Relevance

Public understanding and opinion on the value of biodiversity has strong implications for the acceptance and adoption of conservation measures. People value the natural world in different ways and for different reasons. They may simply value it for its own sake, because it makes our local environment more attractive, or because they enjoy experiencing nature-rich places for recreation. Regular opportunities to experience the natural world are known to have positive impacts on human health.

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Background

In May 2013, Defra published a research report titled Engaging people in biodiversity issues. In this study, a system was defined with a set of evidence-based criteria and decision rules that can be used to assign people from the general population into five discrete groups, based on their responses to a survey developed as part of the study. The system reflects different levels of awareness of, and engagement in, biodiversity issues. The definitions of the five groups developed give internally consistent findings in terms of attitudes and behaviours. Within the research, the groups were of sufficient size to allow further analysis and policy targeting. This study, which captured all parts of the awareness, concern and action spectrum, has been used as a template for the development of the indicator presented here.

The indicator groups survey respondents as follows:

  • Group 1: Does not anticipate a loss of biodiversity in the UK (exact wording of question varied between surveys).
  • Group 2: Believes there will be a loss of biodiversity in the future but is not concerned about the loss of biodiversity.
  • Group 3: Believes there will be a loss of biodiversity, is concerned about a loss of biodiversity and performs zero to two ‘day-to-day’ actions to support and protect biodiversity.
  • Group 4: Believes there will be a loss of biodiversity, is concerned about that loss and performs all three ‘day-to-day’ actions or one to two ‘day-to-day’ actions and at least one ‘higher effort’ action.
  • Group 5: Believes there will be a loss of biodiversity, is concerned about that loss and performs all three ‘day-to-day’ actions as well as one to two ‘higher effort’ actions.

Respondents that fall into group 1 are labelled as ‘not aware’, respondents in group 2 are labelled as ‘not engaged’, respondents in group 3 are said to show ‘some engagement’, and respondents in group 4 or group 5 are combined and said to show ‘high engagement’.

A ‘higher effort’ action is a behaviour that has the capability to persuade others and lead to changes that might impact on biodiversity loss at a national level. Higher effort behaviours require the participant to act outside the realms of regular daily life and are adopted by only a niche group of people. The higher effort actions asked about in the questions used to inform this indicator are ‘volunteered with a project or organisation to help protect the environment/wildlife‘ and ‘Signed a conservation petition or participated in a conservation campaign (online or other)’.

‘Day-to-day’ behaviours are more a measure of engagement than behaviours that will actually prevent biodiversity loss. The day-to-day behaviours asked about in the questions used to inform this indicator are: wildlife gardening; green consumerism; and membership of an organisation that helps to look after wildlife or the natural environment. 

Questions on awareness of, concern for, and actions taken to prevent biodiversity loss, which were based on questions used to define the ‘Public Engagement with Loss of Biodiversity’ system in the Defra Engaging people in biodiversity issues report, have been inserted into surveys running in England (Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment), Scotland (Scottish Nature Omnibus), Northern Ireland (Continuous Household Survey) and Wales (Wales Outdoor Recreation Survey). Table A1i shows a breakdown of the headline measure by country. More information about the four surveys and the exact wording of the questions that were inserted into them can be found in the technical background paper.

It is likely that the surveys used to provide the required information for this indicator will not be run every year. Therefore, it is anticipated that this indicator will be updated only when data are available.

The survey used to collect the data for England (Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment) was replaced by the new People and Nature Survey for England which began collecting data in April 2020 and has produced interim results.

Table A1i. Percentage of people in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland engaged in action to combat biodiversity loss, 2014 and 2018

  England Scotland 4 Wales 4 Northern Ireland 4
  2014 2018 2014 2018 2014 2018 2014 2018
High engagement 5 10 12 20 10 10 4 4
Some engagement 45 53 31 29 13 13 46 46
Not engaged 12 9 13 14 2 2 18 18
Not aware 38 28 43 37 74 74 32 32

Notes:

  1. Country data are not directly comparable; although every effort was made to standardise questions among surveys, question wording is not exactly the same in all four countries (see technical paper).
  2. Totals for each country may not add to 100 due to rounding.
  3. Individual country data presented here are unweighted, therefore totals for each level of engagement may not match the headline indicator. Weighting used to calculate the overall UK measure are based on the relative population size of each country.
  4. This indicator is built from survey results obtained separately by each of the four countries in the UK - which each run surveys in a slightly different manner. Some changes have occurred to the surveys over time.
  • England run the Monitor of Engagement in the Natural Environment survey annually.
  • Scotland run the Scottish Nature Omnibus Survey every two years. Data from the 2017 survey has been used in this publication and carried forward to calculate a UK 2018 total.
  • Wales run an annual survey. Data relating to this indicator used to come from the Wales Outdoor Recreation Survey (WORS). The WOR Survey was discontinued in 2015. Sections of WORS were incorporated into the new National Survey for Wales, but not a direct transcription of the questions previously used for this indicator, so the data for Wales for 2014 from WORS have been carried forward into the UK totals for 2017 and 2018.
  • Northern Ireland run an annual survey, the Continuous Household Survey (CHS). The specific questions relating to this indicator ceased being asked in the CHS 2015/16, so the data from the CHS 2014/15 have been carried forward into the UK totals for 2017 and 2018.

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Goals and Targets

Aichi Targets for which this is a primary indicator

Strategic Goal A. Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.

Aichi Target 1 icon

Target 1: By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.

 

Aichi Targets for which this is a relevant indicator

Strategic Goal A. Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society

Aichi Target 2 icon

Target 2: By 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems.

Aichi Target 4 icon

Target 4: By 2020, at the latest, Governments, business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits.

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Reference

Title 
Defra Awareness research Engaging people in biodiversity issues
Natural England Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment
Natural England People and Nature Survey for England
NatureScot Scottish Nature Omnibus
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Northern Ireland Continuous Household Survey
Natural Resources Wales Wales Outdoor Recreation Survey

 

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Downloads

Download the Datasheet and Technical background document from JNCC's Resource Hub.

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Last updated: October 2020

Latest data available: 2018

 

This content is available on request as a pdf in non-accessible format. If you wish for a copy please go to the enquiries page.

 

Categories:

UK Biodiversity Indicators 2020

Published: .

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