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Overview of assessment of change for all indicators

Updated 20 October 2021, revised 28 October 2021

On 28 October 2021, the following indicator was updated, leading to a revision of the UK Biodiversity Indicators compendium:

  • A4 (Global biodiversity impacts of UK economic activity / sustainable consumption)

The table below summarises 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

 

Overview of assessment of change for all indicators.

Download an accessible version of the following table.

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  

Improving2000–2019

Improving2014–2019

2021 2019
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   Experimental Statistic – under review Experimental Statistic – under review 2021 2017
A5. Integration of biodiversity considerations into business activity  

Insufficient or no comparable date

Insufficient or no comparable date

2021 2019
B1. Agricultural and forest area under environmental management schemes B1a. Area of land in agri-environment schemes

Improving1992–2020

Improving2015–2020

2021 2020
 

B1b. Area of forestry land certified as sustainably managed

National Statistics logo

Improving2001–2021

Little or no overall change2016–2021

2021 2021
B2. Sustainable fisheries B2a. Percentage of marine fish stocks harvested sustainably

Improving1990–2019

Improving2014–2019

2021 2019
  B2b. Biomass of marine fish stocks at full reproductive capacity

Improving1990–2019

Deteriorating2014–2019

2021 2019
B3. Climate change adaptation   Under development Under development 2019 Not Applicable
B4. Pressure from climate change (Spring Index)   Not Assessed Not Assessed 2021 2020
B5. Pressure from pollution B5a. Air pollution        
  B5a(i). Area affected by acidity

Improving1996–2018

Improving2013–2018

2021 2018
  B5a(ii). Area affected by nitrogen

Improving1996–2018

Improving2013–2018

2021 2018
  B5b. Marine pollution

Improving1990–2019

Improving2014–2019

2021 2019
B6. Pressure from invasive species B6a. Freshwater invasive species

Deteriorating1960–2020

Not assessed 2021 2020
  B6b. Marine (coastal) invasive species

Deteriorating1960–2020

Not assessed 2021 2020
  B6c. Terrestrial invasive species

Deteriorating1960–2020

Not assessed 2021 2020
B7. Surface water status  

Little or no overall change2009–2020

Little or no overall change2015–2020

2021 2020
C1. Protected areas C1a. Total extent of protected areas: on land

Improving1950–2021

Little or no overall change2016–2021

2021 2021
  C1b. Total extent of protected areas: at sea

Improving1950–2021

Improving2016–2021

2021 2021
  C1c. Condition of Areas/Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Improving2005–2021

Deteriorating2016–2021

2021 2021
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

Deteriorating1970–2019

Little or no overall change2014–2019

2021 2019
  C4b. Distribution

Little or no overall change1970–2018

Little or no overall change2013–2018

2021 2018

C5. Birds of the wider countryside and at sea

National Statistics logo

C5a. Farmland birds

Deteriorating1970–2018

Deteriorating2013–2018

2021 2019
  C5b. Woodland birds

Deteriorating1970–2018

Deteriorating2013–2018

2021 2019
  C5c. Wetland birds

Deteriorating1975–2018

Little or no overall change2013–2018

2021 2019
  C5d. Seabirds Not Assessed Not Assessed 2021 2019
  C5e. Wintering waterbirds

Improving1975/76–2017/18

Little or no overall change2012/13–2017/18

2021 2018-19
C6. Insects of the wider countryside (butterflies) C6a. Habitat specialists

Deteriorating1976–2020

Little or no overall change2015–2020

2021 2020
  C6b. Species of the wider countryside

Little or no overall change1976–2020

Little or no overall change2015–2020

2021 2020
C7. Plants of the wider countryside   Experimental Statistic – under review Experimental Statistic – under review 2020 2019
C8. Mammals of the wider countryside (bats)  

Improving1999–2019

Improving2014–2019

2021 2020
C9. Genetic resources for food and agriculture C9a. Animal genetic resources – effective population size of Native Breeds at Risk        
  C9a(i). Goat breeds

Improving2004–2020

Little or no overall change2015–2020

2021 2020
  C9a(ii). Pig breeds

Deteriorating2000–2020

Deteriorating2015–2020

2021 2020
  C9a(iii). Horse breeds

Deteriorating2000–2020

Deteriorating2015–2020

2021 2020
  C9a(iv). Sheep breeds

Improving2000–2020

Improving2015–2020

2021 2020
  C9a(v). Cattle breeds

Improving2000–2020

Improving2015–2020

2021 2020
  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

Improving1990–2019

Improving2014–2019

2021 2019
  D1c. Status of pollinating insects

Deteriorating1980–2017

Little or no overall change2012–2017

2021 2017
E1. Biodiversity data for decision making E1a. Cumulative number of records

Improving2004–2021

Improving2016–2021

2021 2021
  E1b. Number of publicly accessible records at 1km2 resolution or better

Improving2008–2021

Improving2016–2021

2021 2021
E2. Expenditure on UK and international biodiversity E2a. Public sector expenditure on UK biodiversity

Improving2000/01–2019/20

Deteriorating2014/15–2019/20

2021 2019/20 financial year
  E2b. Non-governmental organisation expenditure on UK biodiversity Insufficient or no comparable date

Improving2014/15–2019/20

2021 2019/20 financial year
  E2c. UK public sector expenditure on international biodiversity

Improving2001/02–2019/20

Little or no overall change2014/15–2019/20

2021 2019/20 financial year

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 to E), each with a number of targets (the focus of each goal is shown by the words in bold type below):

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

B. Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.

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

D. Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystems.

E. Enhance implementation through planning, knowledge management and capacity building.

 

A new set of global biodiversity targets is being negotiated under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – it is anticipated that these will be agreed in spring 2022.  To allow for the UK biodiversity indicator set to be reviewed, it is anticipated that the next update will be in 2023.

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, deterioration, little or no overall change, or that have insufficient/no comparable data for an assessment to be made.

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).  Strategic Goals A, D and E currently have fewer measures; separate charts are therefore not shown. 

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Assessment of change: all measures.

Two column bar chart showing long term and short term changes for all measures,

The UK biodiversity indicators set comprises 24 indicators and 52 measures.  Of these, ten measures are not assessed in the long-term, and 13 in the short term, as the measures are either under development, or analytical methods for short-term assessment need to be refined.  In this 2021 publication, 18 indicators have been updated. 

Twenty-two of the 42 measures assessed over the long term show an improvement, compared to 15 of the 39 measures that are assessed over the short term.  Fourteen measures show a decline in the long term, and ten 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 15 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
B2a. Proportion of fish stocks harvested sustainably
B5. Pressure from pollution (three measures)
C1b. Total area of protected sites: at sea
C8. Mammals of the wider countryside (Bats)
C9a. Animal genetic resources (two measures)
C9b. Plant genetic resources
D1b. Greenhouse gas removals by forests
E1. Biodiversity data for decision making (two measures)
E2b. NGO expenditure on biodiversity

The 22 measures which have improved in the long term are:

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

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

B2b. Biomass of stocks at full reproductive capacity
C1c. Condition of A/SSSIs
C3. Status of threatened habitats and species (two measures)
C5. Birds of the wider countryside and at sea (two measures)
C9a. Animal genetic resources (two measures)
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 (three measures)
C3. Status of threatened habitats and species (two measures)
C4a. Status of UK Priority species (relative abundance)
C5. Birds of the wider countryside and at sea (three measures)
C6a. Insects in the wider countryside (butterflies) (Semi-natural habitat specialists)
C9a. Animal genetic resources (two measures)
D1a. Fish size classes in the North Sea
D1c. Pollinators

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

i. Publication of a new experimental indicator on Global biodiversity impacts of UK economic activity / sustainable consumption (A4).

ii. Methodological change in how the individual species trends are combined to form a composite indicator for the priority species measures (C4a/b).

iii. The integration of biodiversity considerations into business activity (A5) has been revised, and until more data points are available this indicator cannot be assessed.

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Assessment of change: Strategic Goals B and C.

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

Two column bar chart showing long term and short term changes for goal b Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use

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 fish stocks harvested sustainably, 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.

Two column bar chart showing long term and short term changes for goal c Improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity

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 the abundance of priority species). In total, five 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.

 

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.

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UK Biodiversity Indicators 2021

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