United Kingdom’s 6th National Report to the Convention on Biological Diversity
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) are required by Article 26 of the Convention to submit national reports to the Conference of the Parties on measures taken for the implementation of the Convention and their effectiveness in meeting the objectives of the Convention. The 6th National Report is focused on work by Parties to achieve the 20 Aichi Targets in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.
JNCC worked throughout 2018 on behalf of Defra and the devolved administrations to collate and assess evidence from around the United Kingdom (UK), its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. This included contributions from government, statutory nature conservation bodies and the wider stakeholder community. The final report was submitted to the CBD Secretariat on the 11 March 2019. The results show that overall the UK is making good progress, with five targets on track to be achieved, and progress being made for 14 more.
Section I of the report explains that the UK has assessed progress against the Aichi Targets rather than against national targets.
Section II contains a series of case studies on measures taken to improve the conservation status of UK habitats and species. These are a useful overview of work undertaken at a variety of geographic scales.
Section III of the report provides an assessment of the UK’s progress towards the Aichi Targets.
Section IV contains information about the UK contributions to the achievement of the Aichi targets in other parts of the globe through, in particular, the Darwin Initiative.
Section V provides an assessment of progress against the targets in the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC).
Section VI is an optional section on Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs). The UK has not completed this section.
Section VII is an update of the country profile for the UK to be published on the CBD website.
UK progress towards the Aichi Targets
Overall, the UK has made a lot of good progress towards the Aichi Targets and some targets are, or will be, achieved. However, it is fair to note that there is still more progress required in other areas.
The targets on mainstreaming (#2), protected areas (#11), implementation of the Nagoya Protocol (#16), National biodiversity strategy (#17), and mobilisation of information and research (#19) are assessed as on track to achieve the target.
For most of the other targets, there is evidence that progress is being made, but it is being counteracted by, for example, continuing pressures. Some targets have proved particularly challenging despite the positive progress that has been made (e.g. #8 on pollution, #10 on vulnerable ecosystems, #12 on conservation status of species, and #15 on restoring degraded ecosystems).
The report identifies areas where progress is being made:
- Expanding the area of our protected sites network. Protected sites, including National Parks currently cover 28% of UK land area and 24% of our seas.
- Ecosystem restoration, particularly for peat. Each of the four countries is investing significantly in the restoration of peat ecosystems as a contribution to climate change mitigation.
- Integration of biodiversity into other sectors of the economy. A number of major infrastructure project such as Crossrail and Thameslink operating a biodiversity net-gain approach.
- Ex-situ management of plant genetic diversity. The UK holds world renowned facilities including Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank which contains 75% of the UK’s total native and ancient non-native plant species.
- Funding for international biodiversity conservation. The UK’s contribution has increased from a baseline of £77.4m per annum between 2006 and 2010 to over £180m in 2015.
In addition, the report identifies other areas where there is significant work to be done:
- There is an overall picture of ongoing species decline, although perhaps not at the rate seen in previous decades. There are some species or species groups where there has been progress and there have been a number of promising reintroduction schemes.
- Despite some progress in improving the condition of protected sites, a significant proportion of the best wildlife habitats inside and outside protected sites remains unfavourable.
- There are ongoing pressures on biodiversity. For example, despite good work to identify introduction pathways and rapid and early response to some detections such as Asian hornet, the prevalence of invasive species continues to increase across the UK.
- There has been a short-term fall in Government funding for biodiversity in the UK, although as biodiversity has increasingly been integrated into other funding streams such as green growth, the data has become increasingly difficult to assess.
In the UK and Overseas Territories there are no Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IIPLCs) as defined in Article 8j of the Convention and, therefore, the UK has not assessed Target 18 in Sections III and IV, or in Section VI.
JNCC has produced a summary of the assessments of progress towards the Aichi Targets, which can be downloaded below.
Progress towards the targets in the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
Looking at the GSPC Targets – which are closely linked to the Aichi Targets but with a plant focus – the UK has a slightly better story to tell, largely due to the globally significant work undertaken by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. GSPC Target 13 is the analogue of Aichi Target 18, hence the No Change assessment.
JNCC has produced a summary of the assessments of progress towards the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation targets, which can be downloaded below.
- Sixth National Report to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (March 2019, v2 – 314 pages)
- Overview of the UK Assessments of Progress for the Aichi Targets (14 pages)
- Overview of the UK Assessments of Progress for the GSPC Targets (6 pages)