5th UK Biodiversity Indicators Forum

9:30–17:00, 8 March 2011, Defra, London

BIF5 Meeting Report

The 5th Biodiversity Indicators Forum was organised by JNCC and Defra, and was held on 8 March 2011 in London. There were over 30 attendees, including representatives from Defra, JNCC, CEH, the Country Agencies, several NGOs (RSPB, BTCV, Butterfly Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust), and the European Commission, European Environment Agency and European Topic Centre on Biological Diversity.


The objectives of the meeting were:

  • to discuss the quality and relevance of the UK biodiversity indicator set in the light of the adoption of new global and European 2020 targets and:
  • to generate options for the development and refinement of the indicator set.


The existing set of 18 indicators was selected in October 2006, to help measure progress against the 2010 CBD target to ‘significantly reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss by 2010’, and the European Union target to halt biodiversity decline. The first publication was in 2007, and the set was developed over the following four years, and published in full in 2010. It was envisaged that a complete overhaul of the existing indicator set would not be necessary, particularly in light of resource restrictions, but rather that a shift in emphasis might be needed.


To consider the objectives, background documentation included:

  1. a data quality assessment of the currently existing indicator set. This assessment provides scores for each existing indicator against a set of criteria, including precision of the data and future data security. The score for each criterion ranges from 1 (low) up to 3 (high).Total scores for each indicator provide a very simple assessment of the indicator’s quality.
  2. a gap analysis, which considers how well the existing UK indicator set covers new reporting commitments, by mapping the UK indicators against the 20 targets for 2020 which were agreed at the tenth Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Nagoya in October 2010. In addition, the document includes preliminary work to link this information with the current European indicators, and targets from the emerging European Biodiversity Strategy, and with the most recent indicators available for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Please note that this document was updated following the Forum, in June 2011, to take into account the finalised version of the European Biodiversity Strategy, launched in early May, and comments received from attendees at the meeting about country-level indicators.

It is evident from the data quality assessment that several indicators have low scores, and therefore would benefit from improvement. In addition, the gap analysis demonstrates that, although all of the existing UK indicators can be re-used to address the 2020 targets, for a number of targets, there are no currently existing indicators available to measure progress.

Delegates were asked to consider whether they agreed with the scoring of the indicators, and with the gaps identified by the mapping exercise. They were also asked to consider whether they knew of any indicators that might be useful in filling the gaps, or of data sets that might help improve the quality of existing indicators.

In order to focus the outcomes of the meeting, just a selection of specific areas identified as requiring development were identified to be discussed further.


Two presentations were given to provide background to the 2020 targets and the forum:

  1. ‘International context: CBD CoP10 and the EU Biodiversity Strategy’ (Andrew Stott, Defra). This presentation provided the details to the CBD targets, and introduced the emerging EU biodiversity strategy and its sub-targets. It demonstrated the international context of the indicator set.
  2. ‘UK Biodiversity Indicators: Preliminary Assessment’ (Mark Stevenson, Defra, and James Williams, JNCC). This presentation provided the background to the quality review and gap analysis that has been carried out.

These were followed by a third presentation:

(3)   ‘Ecosystem Service Indicators’ (Matt Walpole, WCMC). This presentation opened discussions around ecosystem service indicators, which have been identified as not being currently covered by the existing indicator set, despite their relevance to several of the 2020 targets. It is envisaged that this area may be the subject of a dedicated workshop later in the year.


Following the presentations and discussions, delegates split into smaller groups (workshops) to discuss three specific areas identified through the preliminary assessments as requiring further development:

(1)    Footprinting – what is the impact of the UK’s activities elsewhere?

(2)    Climate change – can we measure the impact on biodiversity?

(3)    Volunteering/public awareness – how can we improve our measurements of engagement with biodiversity?


For a full copy of the draft report>>> (updated June 2011 following amendments)