Introduction to the guidance manual
21. Contextual information




The interpretation of condition assessments made using common standards monitoring approaches will often require access to contextual data. This enables the monitoring assessments to be viewed in a broader geographical or temporal perspective (e.g. by comparing results for a particular feature with trends in the wider environment in the UK or beyond). Contextual information may be collected by the conservation agencies or may be provided by the activities of other institutions.
National biodiversity surveillance programmes, such as Countryside Survey 2000, the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) and the BSBI and Butterfly Monitoring Schemes, provide information on the status of biodiversity across the UK, and allow site-based information to be considered in a wider context. Other useful sources of information may include data on air pollution levels, models of the potential impacts of climate change, and data on trends in pesticide use, fertiliser application, etc.
On some sites, long-term surveillance programmes have been established, e.g. permanent quadrats or transects which are recorded at regular intervals. These will yield site-specific information on trends, which will support interpretation of common standards monitoring assessments.
In addition, the information referred to in this section may be the source of data required to ascertain whether target levels for attributes have been met, or whether species are present on a particular site.