Surveillance shows that the grayling has declined, and it is now a UKBAP priority species.©Nick Greatorex-Davies, CEHSurveillance and Monitoring

JNCC delivers surveillance and monitoring through partnerships, which aim to answer a wide range of questions at different geographic scales. Work also involves developing strategies and innovations to improve value for money and the quality of evidence delivered.


Surveillance and monitoring record the status and trends of species and habitats, the services they provide and the pressures that affect them. The information gathered is necessary to help identify any problems, target conservation action where it is most needed and measure the success of conservation effort. It is often possible to reanalyse the data gathered in surveillance schemes in different ways to answer new questions which arise, such as determining the impacts of policy or new activities.

Image of rocky reef with Dead Man's Fingers and calcereous tube worm © JNCC


JNCC has a role in co-ordinating and directing surveillance in the UK by:


The surveillance and monitoring in which JNCC is involved forms part of worldwide, European and national strategies. At a global level, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has a strategic plan to halt the loss of biodiversity, and to maintain the services it provides, and on which we depend, by 2020. The plan is set out in 5 strategic goals as “Aichi targets”. Surveillance and monitoring of biodiversity is an essential activity to assess progress towards meeting the targets. The CBD promotes flexibility in surveillance to allow countries to design solutions that suit their circumstances, and JNCC provides advice on this in the UK.


As a member of the European Union, the UK is committed through national legislation to implement directives which include measures for biodiversity. The main relevant directives are for Birds, Habitats and species, Marine Strategy Framework, Water Framework, and the Regulation on invasive alien species. These include commitments for member states to conserve, survey, monitor and report every six years on particular species and habitats.


Following the establishment of devolved governments within the UK in 1998, responsibility for the environment and biodiversity is primarily at the country level. Each country has a strategy for biodiversity and the environment, which underpins the new 'UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework', published in July 2012. Objectives include restoring, enhancing and halting the loss of biodiversity through effective management, and ensuring widespread knowledge and understanding. There is a need to plan and measure the outcomes of the implementations delivering strategy objectives: a role performed by surveillance and monitoring of sites, habitats and species.


However, JNCC does not only focus on surveillance obligation, but also aims to promote a complete framework for biodiversity surveillance. This aims to incorporate a degree of flexibility in reporting whilst encouraging standardisation of general methods and data capture formats to allow compilation of reports at a variety of biogeographic scales and for multiple uses.