Developing UK indicators for the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. (Defra contract 1301).
The UK Biodiversity Indicators were developed and published between 2007 and 2010 for reporting on progress with international and European commitments to halt or slow biodiversity loss by 2010 (see http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/biyp/).
The 10th Conference of Parties to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (October 2010), adopted a new strategic plan and a set of 20 targets (the ‘Aichi targets’) to focus activity on its long term mission of halting biodiversity loss. The plan also requires parties to develop indicators to report progress in 2014 and 2019. The Aichi targets can be found at www.cbd.int/sp/targets/. The Conference of the Parties requested the Executive Secretary to convene an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on Indicators for the Strategic Plan. That took place from 20 to 24 June 2011 in High Wycombe, United Kingdom. The report of the AHTEG is available at www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=AHTEG-SP-IND-01.
The Aichi Targets imply responses at multiple levels, and it is likely that indicators will be developed at global, regional and national scales. The AHTEG agreed that a framework for communicating biodiversity information should respond to the following questions: is the status of biodiversity improving? (status); what are the implications? (benefits); why are we losing biodiversity? (pressures and underlying drivers); and what do we do about it (responses). It is expected that the UK indicators will fit into this framework to facilitate reporting progress against the Strategic plan.
A new European target was adopted at the Environment Council in Brussels in March 2010 and an EU Biodiversity Strategy was published in 2011. Work is ongoing to develop a set of indicators, building on the Streamlining European Biodiversity Indicators project, to review the European indicators so they can be used to report on progress against both the European Union Biodiversity Strategy and to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Targets.
In response to these significant changes to the policy framework, a review of the UK indicators was initiated to ensure that they:
· Continue to be based on the most robust and reliable available data; and
· Remain relevant to the new international and European goals and targets.
The quality and relevance of the current indicators and potential changes to the UK Biodiversity Indicator set were discussed at a Biodiversity Indicator Forum workshop in March 2011. The report of the meeting, including both a quality review and a gap analysis, is available at http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-5781. Much of the investment to-date in indicator development, subject to review and amendment where appropriate, remains valid. Further work will need to be undertaken for new targets, such as ecosystem function. Participants identified a number of gaps where there were no current indicators for particular targets, or where the existing indicators were only indirectly linked to targets. Refinements to existing indicators were identified to improve their relevance to current objectives, make them easier to understand or address concerns over data quality / availability.
This project will help develop some of the indicators required under six thematic areas (listed below), ensuring that new developments and refinements have a sound scientific base. In order that the UK retains links from global to country-based indicators it will be important that indicators for the UK can be disaggregated to country level (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and that the UK indicators are aligned, as far as practicable, with global and EU frameworks.
Thematic indicator development areas:
· Awareness, understanding and support for biodiversity conservation (Aichi Target 1)
· Status of ecosystem services and/or habitats and species supporting ecosystem services (Aichi Targets 14 and 15)
· Habitat connectivity (Aichi Targets 5 and 15)
· Plant genetic resources (Aichi Target 13)
· Climate change adaptation (Aichi Targets 8 and 9)
· Integrating biodiversity considerations into business activity
The first step in this project was to undertake a scoping exercise to review and synthesise the metadata used in the UK National Ecosystem Assessment and identify data sets which may be suitable for developing UK biodiversity and ecosystem service indicators. Results of the scoping exercise will inform and guide subsequent, more detailed data searches and development of indicator options and methodologies through consultation with experts in these fields.
If you have been asked to complete the online survey requesting information on additional data sets that may be for developing specific UK biodiversity and ecosystem service indicators and wish to view the results of the scoping paper, then please download them from here; the supporting electronic information can be downloaded from here.