3rd UK Biodiversity Indicators Forum (BIF3)

6 July 2004, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough

Meeting Report

The following notes provide a summary of the discussions held; they are not intended as a detailed record of individual presentations or interventions. 
Background papers





At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 it was agreed to:
 'achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth'
At the 7th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) a framework of indicators (Decision VII.30) was adopted to measure the achievement of the target.  The European Commission Biodiversity Expert Group and a number of meetings have worked to develop how these indicators might be implemented at European and Pan-European scales.  This has recently culminated in the discussions at the Malahide Biodiversity and the EU - Sustaining Life, Sustaining Livelihoods Conference, which have been welcomed by the June Environment Council. 

Summary of presentations and discussion


The agreement at the CBD CoP7 has led to significant progress, and the processes for development of indicators at global, EU and Pan-European levels have converged.  There is now momentum for rapid progress to production of global and European indicators within a year to 18 months, leading to publication of a first assessment in 2006.
The meeting reviewed these developments and looked forward to the way the EU indicators would be developed (co-ordination through the European Environment Agency and Biodiversity Expert Group), and how these developments could/should fit with global developments under CBD (e.g. via a liaison group and ad-hoc expert technical group in autumn 2004, leading into the 10th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technology and Technological Advice). 
In parallel, work is being undertaken by the CBD Secretariat and UNEP-WCMC to prepare an outline for the second Global Biodiversity Outlook report, which will be used as the mechanism to present the global indicators when they have been developed.
The expectation is that all the indicators will be based on existing data.  The intention is not to produce something perfect, but which can communicate at a high political level the progress towards the 2010 target.  There is flexibility in the CBD framework for Parties to use similar but not identical information within their indicators. 
Within Europe there is still debate to be had about a top-level biodiversity indicator (which would hopefully form part of the set of structural indicators reviewed  by Heads of State in spring Council each year).  In terms of development of the individual indicators, a number of expert groups are expected to be convened.  The UK (through Defra and JNCC) have expressed willingness to be involved in this work – we now need to work out the best ways to engage, including who to nominate to which group.  Details should become clearer after the first EEA co-ordination group meeting on 7 July. 
With respect to reporting, it has become more obvious over the past couple of years that the reporting burden is increasing, and that there is little outcome information / biological data used in reports (as opposed to process and activity summaries).  A vision for moving to state of biodiversity reporting, updated with minimal process information was presented, and generated considerable discussion.  There was recognition that evolution rather than revolution is required, and that care must be taken in influencing the international agenda to avoid a perception of 'megaphone diplomacy'.  Defra's review of UK biodiversity statistics may offer the opportunity to make reports more information based.  A state of the seas report being prepared by Defra may provide lessons on doing such overview biodiversity reporting. 
Within the marine environment, CEFAS have made good progress since BIF2 in developing indicators relating to fish abundance.   The presentation generated considerable interest, particularly the analysis of over what period trends could be detected.  It may be possible to develop EU-wide indices in a similar way given the data are collected by all ICES countries.
Within England, a mapping of the indicators chosen for the England Biodiversity Strategy and those coming out of the CBD and EU processes showed a reasonably good correlation.  This has yet to be done for other countries.  There are some obvious gaps such as genetic biodiversity and invasive non-natives.  Three sets of indicators were described for Scotland: for sustainable development, for the Scottish biodiversity strategy, and for measuring SNH's performance.  A useful approach to code data availability was described.  Unfortunately, speakers for Wales and Northern Ireland were not available. 
In general discussion it was recognised that there is potential not just for the UK to provide what it is already doing to Europe and beyond in terms of indicators and underlying data, but that there may be new reporting requirements arising out of the habitats and water framework Directives. 

What next?


International and UK indicators


  • There was support for the CBD and EU frameworks for biodiversity indicators and focus on the 2010 targets and beyond.  These were seen as not only useful for the international stage but also for the UK itself in order to develop a UK set of (headline) indicators which could be used both internationally and also to communicate to the public and stakeholders the UK picture. 
  • The meeting recognised the considerable work done in the UK on indicators and monitoring and thought it vital for the UK to continue to actively contribute  to  the international work and agreements on biodiversity indicators based on our own experience.  Offers of help should be sent to Andrew Stott ( ) Following the EU coordination group meeting on Wednesday 7 July, progress made and any new proposals will be communicated to Forum members. 
  • Mapping the various biodiversity indicators produced for England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole against the CBD and EU frameworks and proposed indicators would be a useful next step. 
  • Defra will follow up the need for and possible development of, a UK set of (headline) biodiversity indicators with the UK Standing Committee.
  • The idea of a State of Biodiversity Report for the UK was mooted and discussed.  This might be used to refine UK ideas for country reporting and could be used to influence reporting to international bodies.  However, in view of the other international commitments (particularly falling to JNCC over the next year) it was agreed that work on any such report should not be started at present. 




  • It was agreed that the Forum should not just rely on annual meetings to update members and other interested stakeholders of progress.  The JNCC website will be used (at least initially) to provide additional reports between meetings. 
  • A report of the meeting will be provided to the UK Biodiversity Reporting and Information Group (BRIG). 
  • It was agreed that further meetings would be held.  The 4th meeting will be arranged in Summer 2005.