An Overview of UK trends - Biodiversity Indicators


The UK is fortunate in having lots of information about its biodiversity, collected by both professionals and expert amateurs. Marbled White butterfly (Melanargia galathea) © Helen BakerThis information provides an essential source of evidence to show the effects of pressures on biodiversity and the impact of policies and actions to conserve it. It is also needed for reporting biodiversity change, for example through contributing to the UK biodiversity indicator suite.


The UK biodiversity indicators are a useful tool to help communicate the results of monitoring and surveillance and provide an overview of biodiversity trends in the UK.  They are measures that summarise complex data into simple, standardised and communicable figures. The indicators were developed in 2007 for reporting on progress with international and European commitments to halt or slow the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. Their audience is extremely broad, ranging from the general public to senior decision makers.  Updates to the indicators have been published annually, with the latest version published in May 2011.


The indicator suite was developed with input from government, statutory agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academic institutes. Some of the 18 indicators in the suite rely on biodiversity data collected as part of JNCC surveillance schemes run in partnership with NGOs and research bodies. In particular, Indicator 1 – ‘Populations of selected species’ uses information from the Breeding Birds Survey, Wetlands Birds Survey, the Seabird Monitoring Programme, the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme and the National Bat Monitoring Programme.

The presentation and assessment of the indicators is agreed with the data providers prior to publication to ensure accuracy and objectivity. The indicator publication is designated by Defra as National Statistics. This means that certain procedures are followed and the statistics are reviewed by the UK Statistics Authority.


A review of the UK Biodiversity indicator suite was initiated in 2010. This was to ensure that indicators continue to be based on the most robust and reliable available data, and remain relevant to new international and European goals and targets. Part of this review considered how well the existing UK indicator set fits with the 20 Aichi targets for 2020 which were agreed at the tenth Conference of the Parties (COP 10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Nagoya in October 2010. This concluded that all of the current indicators were relevant to one or more of these 20 targets, although a small number of gaps were identified. A number of possible refinements to existing biodiversity indicators were also identified to improve their relevance, make them easier to understand, or address concerns over data quality or availability.


A rolling program of additions and refinements to the indicator suite has started, and will be implemented over the next three years. For now, take a look at the May 2011 indicator publication to see how biodiversity is faring in the UK.


Contact File


James Williams

Indicators and Reporting Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1733 866868


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