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Overview of assessment of change for all indicators

Updated 15 October 2020

The table below summaries traffic light assessments for 24 indicators and their component measures. For each indicator, its number, title, and measures (where applicable) are shown. Indicators are numbered according to the Strategic Goal with which they most closely link.

The indicators

Improving Improving Deteriorating Deteriorating
Little or no overall change Little or no overall change Insufficient or no comparable date Insufficient or no comparable data

The individual assessments for each measure can be combined to produce an overall picture of progress made. The charts below display the numbers of measures that have shown an improvement (green traffic light), deterioration (red traffic light), little or no overall change (amber traffic light), or that have insufficient data for an assessment to be made (white traffic light).

 

Indicator / measure(s)   Long-term change1 Short-term change2 Last Updated Latest Data
A1. Awareness, understanding and support for conservation   Insufficient or no comparable date Insufficient or no comparable date 2020 2018
A2. Taking action for nature: volunteer time spent in conservation  

Improving2000–2018

Improving2013–2018

2020 2018
A3. Value of biodiversity integrated into decision making   Under development Under development 2019 Not Applicable
A4. Global biodiversity impacts of UK economic activity / sustainable consumption   Under development Under development 2020 Not Applicable
A5. Integration of biodiversity considerations into business activity  

Improving1999–2017

Deteriorating2012–2017

2019 2017
B1. Agricultural and forest area under environmental management schemes B1a. Area of land in agri-environment schemes

Improving1992–2019

Improving2014–2019

2020 2019
 

B1b. Area of forestry land certified as sustainably managed

National Statistics logo

Improving2001–2020

Little or no overall change2015–2020

2020 2020
B2. Sustainable fisheries B2a. Percentage of marine fish stocks harvested sustainably

Improving1990–2018

Improving2013–2018

2020 2018
  B2b. Biomass of marine fish stocks at full reproductive capacity

Improving1990–2018

Improving2013–2018

2020 2018
B3. Climate change adaptation   Under development Under development 2019 Not Applicable
B4. Pressure from climate change (Spring Index)   Not Assessed Not Assessed 2020 2019
B5. Pressure from pollution B5a. Air pollution        
  B5a(i). Area affected by acidity

Improving1996–2017

Improving2012–2017

2020 2017
  B5a(ii). Area affected by nitrogen

Improving1996–2017

Improving2012–2017

2020 2017
  B5b. Marine pollution

Improving1990–2018

Improving2013–2018

2020 2018
B6. Pressure from invasive species B6a. Freshwater invasive species

Deteriorating1960–2019

Not assessed 2020 2019
  B6b. Marine (coastal) invasive species

Deteriorating1960–2019

Not assessed 2020 2019
  B6c. Terrestrial invasive species

Deteriorating1960–2019

Not assessed 2020 2019
B7. Surface water status  

Little or no overall change2009–2019

Little or no overall change2014–2019

2020 2019
C1. Protected areas C1a. Total extent of protected areas: on land

Improving1950–2020

Little or no overall change2015–2020

2020 2020
  C1b. Total extent of protected areas: at sea

Improving1950–2020

Improving2015–2020

2020 2020
  C1c. Condition of Areas/Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Improving2005–2020

Little or no overall change2015–2020

2020 2020
C2. Habitat connectivity   Experimental Statistic – under review Experimental Statistic – under review 2019 2012
C3. Status of European habitats and species C3a. Status of UK habitats of European importance

Deteriorating2007–2019

Deteriorating2013–2019

2019 2019
  C3b. Status of UK species of European importance

Deteriorating2007–2019

Deteriorating2013–2019

2019 2019
C4. Status of UK priority species C4a. Relative abundance

Deteriorating1970–2018

Little or no overall change2013–2018

2020 2018
  C4b. Distribution

Deteriorating1970–2017

Little or no overall change2012–2017

2020 2017

C5. Birds of the wider countryside and at sea

National Statistics logo

C5a. Farmland birds

Deteriorating1970–2017

Deteriorating2012–2017

2020 2018
  C5b. Woodland birds

Deteriorating1970–2017

Deteriorating2012–2017

2020 2018
  C5c. Wetland birds

Little or no overall change1975–2017

Little or no overall change2012–2017

2020 2018
  C5d. Seabirds Not Assessed Not Assessed 2020 2018
  C5e. Wintering waterbirds

Improving1975/76–2016/17

Little or no overall change2011/12–2016/17

2020 2017-18
C6. Insects of the wider countryside (butterflies) C6a. Habitat specialists

Deteriorating1976–2019

Little or no overall change2014–2019

2020 2019
  C6b. Species of the wider countryside

Little or no overall change1976–2019

Little or no overall change2014–2019

2020 2019
C7. Plants of the wider countryside   Experimental Statistic – under review Experimental Statistic – under review 2020 2019
C8. Mammals of the wider countryside (bats)  

Improving1999–2018

Improving2013–2018

2020 2019
C9. Genetic resources for food and agriculture C9a. Animal genetic resources – effective population size of Native Breeds at Risk        
  C9a(i). Goat breeds

Improving2004–2019

Improving2014–2019

2020 2019
  C9a(ii). Pig breeds

Deteriorating2000–2019

Deteriorating2014–2019

2020 2019
  C9a(iii). Horse breeds

Deteriorating2000–2019

Little or no overall change2014–2019

2020 2019
  C9a(iv). Sheep breeds

Improving2000–2019

Improving2014–2019

2020 2019
  C9a(v). Cattle breeds

Improving2000–2019

Improving2014–2019

2020 2019
  C9b. Plant genetic resources – Enrichment Index

Improving1960–2018

Improving2013–2018

2018 2018
D1. Biodiversity and ecosystem services D1a. Fish size classes in the North Sea

Deteriorating1983–2019

Deteriorating2014–2019

2020 2019
  D1b. Removal of greenhouse gases by UK forests

Improving1990–2018

Improving2013–2018

2020 2018
  D1c. Status of pollinating insects

Deteriorating1980–2017

Little or no overall change2012–2017

2020 2017
E1. Biodiversity data for decision making E1a. Cumulative number of records

Improving2004–2020

Improving2015–2020

2020 2020
  E1b. Number of publicly accessible records at 1km2 resolution or better

Improving2008–2020

Improving2015–2020

2020 2020
E2. Expenditure on UK and international biodiversity E2a. Public sector expenditure on UK biodiversity

Improving2000/01–2018/19

Deteriorating2013/14–2018/19

2020 2018/19 financial year
  E2b. Non-governmental organisation expenditure on UK biodiversity Insufficient or no comparable date

Improving2013/14–2018/19

2020 2018/19 financial year
  E2c. UK public sector expenditure on international biodiversity

Improving2001/02–2018/19

Improving2013/14–2018/19

2020 2018/19 financial year

1 Long-term – an assessment of change since the earliest date for which data are available, although if the data run is for less than ten years a long-term assessment is not made.

2 Short-term – an assessment of change over the latest five years.  For a very few indicators the short-term change is over a longer time-period as a result of the frequency of update of the data upon which the indicators are based.  Indicators C3a and C3b have a six year short-term assessment.

The UK Government is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is committed to the biodiversity goals and targets agreed in 2010 and set out in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020. The targets are known as 'Aichi Targets', after the province in Japan where they were agreed.  The Strategic Plan has five goals (A–E), each with a number of targets (the focus of each goal is shown by the words in bold type below):

  1. Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.
  2. Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.
  3. Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.
  4. Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystems.
  5. Enhance implementation through planning, knowledge management and capacity building.

As well as an overall summary, based on all measures in the indicator set, separate summaries for Strategic Goals B and C are shown, which are based on the indicators and measures linked to those goals (B1 to B7; C1 to C9).  A number of indicators are under development for Strategic Goals A, D, and E, so they currently have very few measures; separate charts are therefore not shown.

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Assessment of change: all measures.

A stacked bar graph showing long term and short term changes for all the indicators added together.  For long term change, there are 23 measures assessed as green (improving), three amber (little or no overall change), 14 red (deteriorating), and 2 grey (insufficient data).  For short term change, there are 18 measures assessed as green (improving), 12 amber (little or no overall change), 8 red (deteriorating), and one grey (insufficient data).

The UK biodiversity indicators set comprises 24 indicators and 52 measures.  Of these, eleven measures are not assessed in the long-term, and fourteen in the short term, as the measures are either under development, or analytical methods for short-term assessment need to be refined.  In this 2020 publication, 24 indicators have been updated. 

Twenty-three of the 41 measures assessed over the long term show an improvement, compared to 18 of the 38 measures that are assessed over the short term.  Fourteen measures show a decline in the long term, and eight a decline in the short term.  Measures that improved or deteriorated in the long term have not necessarily continued to improve or deteriorate respectively in the short term.

The 18 measures showing an improvement in the short term are:

A2. Taking action for nature: volunteer time spent in conservation
B1a. Area of land in agri-environment schemes
B2. Sustainable fisheries (2 measures)
B5. Pressure from pollution (3 measures)
C1b. Total area of protected sites: at sea
C8. Mammals of the wider countryside (Bats)
C9a. Animal genetic resources (3 measures)
C9b. Plant genetic resources
D1b. Greenhouse gas removals by forests
E1. Biodiversity data for decision making (2 measures)
E2. Expenditure on biodiversity (2 measures)

The 23 measures which have improved in the long term are:

A2. Taking action for nature: volunteer time spent in conservation
A5. Integration of biodiversity considerations into business activity
B1a. Area of land in agri-environment schemes
B1b. Area of forestry land certified as sustainably managed
B2. Sustainable fisheries (2 measures)
B5. Pressure from pollution (3 measures)
C1. Protected areas (3 measures)
C5e. Wintering water birds
C8. Mammals of the wider countryside (Bats)
C9a. Animal genetic resources (3 measures)
C9b. Plant genetic resources
D1b. Greenhouse gas removals by UK forests
E1. Biodiversity data for decision making (2 measures)
E2. Expenditure on biodiversity (2 measures)

The 8 measures showing a decline in the short term are:

A5. Integration of biodiversity considerations into business activity
C3. Status of threatened habitats and species
C5. Birds of the wider countryside and at sea (2 measures)
C9a. Animal genetic resources (pig breeds)
D1a. Fish size classes in the North Sea
E2a. Expenditure on UK biodiversity

The 14 measures showing long-term deterioration are:

B6. Pressure from invasive species (3 measures)
C3. Status of threatened habitats and species
C4. Status of UK Priority species (2 measures)
C5. Birds of the wider countryside and at sea (2 measures)
C6. Insects of the wider countryside (butterflies) (Semi-natural habitat specialists)
C9a. Animal genetic resources (2 measures)
D1. Biodiversity and ecosystem services

Key changes to the indicator set since the previous publication are:

i. Methodological changes to the Pressure from climate change (Spring Index) indicator (B4) to allow more data to be used.

ii. Methodological changes to the Insects of the Wider Countryside indicator (C6), to take account of colonisation by species of new sites.

iii. Publication of a new plant indicator (C7, comprising four measures) based on the National Plant Monitoring Scheme.

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Assessment of change: Strategic Goals B and C

Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use

A stacked bar graph showing long-term and short-term changes for the indicators of relevance to Goal B.

The indicators under Strategic Goal B (seven indicators and 13 measures prefixed 'B' in the summary table) show long-term progress is being made to address the pressures on biodiversity (e.g. in the proportion of fisheries that are sustainable, in the area of land in agri-environment schemes, air and marine pollution). However, there has been a long-term increase in the prevalence of invasive species, reflecting a pattern of continuing or growing threat to biodiversity in the UK. In the short-term there is little or no overall change in the area of forestry land certified as sustainably managed, and in surface water status. 

Goal C: Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity

A stacked bar graph showing long-term and short-term changes for the indicators of relevance to Goal C.

There were long-term declines for nine measures under Strategic Goal C (nine indicators and 26 measures prefixed 'C' in the summary table, covering status of biodiversity), reflecting the declines in many species populations seen in the 1970s and 1980s. There is some evidence that some of the previous declines have slowed, with some measures assessed as deteriorating in the long-term showing little or no overall change in the short-term (e.g. semi-natural habitat specialist butterflies and status of priority species – both the abundance and distribution measures). In total, six measures have shown improvement over the short term, including extent of protected areas at sea, and bats. These conclusions should be viewed with some caution as changes are more difficult to assess reliably over the short term.

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UK Biodiversity Indicators 2020

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