Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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Biodiversity indicators in your pocket 2007

Biodiversity indicators in your pocket 2007

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (170/07) issued by The Government News Network on 12 June 2007


A new publication has been launched today to highlight trends and provide an overview of the country's progress in protecting biodiversity. This is the first time that a set of biodiversity indicators for the UK has been published.

Biodiversity indicators in your pocket 2007 is a compendium publication, which has drawn on data from Government agencies, non-governmental organisations and research organisations. The free pocket-sized booklet contains 18 indicators covering aspects of biodiversity including populations of selected species, extent of protected areas, river quality and expenditure on biodiversity protection. The indicators are grouped under six focal areas:

1. Status and trends in components of biodiversity
2. Sustainable use
3. Threats to biodiversity
4. Ecosystem integrity and ecosystem goods and services
5. Status of resource transfers and use
6. Public awareness and participation

The indicators will be used as part of the evidence to assess progress towards two biodiversity targets to which the UK government is committed:

* In 2001 European Union Heads of State or Government agreed that biodiversity decline should be halted with the aim of reaching the objective by 2010.

* In 2002 Heads of State at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development agreed to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level.

The aim of this publication is to make the indicators easily accessible to a wide audience and to enable everyone to judge where progress is being made and where the challenges lie. The booklet is intended to act as a useful reference to experts and also a guide for those less familiar with the concept of biodiversity. Around 2,000 copies will be distributed both nationally and internationally.

Key results
Individually the indicators highlight those issues for which recent and longer-term change has been for the better or for the worse. Collectively they can provide an overview of progress, overall and for the six focal areas.

i) Overall messages

The 18 indicators comprise 27 measures and using these it is possible to get an overview of change compared with earlier years, based on the number of measures showing improvement, little change or showing deterioration. However it is essential to look at the individual indicators too as this does not take account of the relative importance of particular indicators.

Of 26 assessed measures, 10 (38 per cent) show improvement since 2000, compared with 8 measures (31 per cent) showing improvement over the longer term. Those showing improvement since 2000 include extent of protected areas, sustainable fisheries, sustainable woodland management, biological river quality and expenditure on both UK and global biodiversity.
Those measures showing long term deterioration are populations of farmland and woodland birds, populations of specialist butterflies, and plant diversity in open habitats, woodlands and boundary habitats. None of the measures have shown deterioration since 2000.

ii) Summaries for focal areas

The indicators can be grouped, in a similar way, to provide an overview for the six focal areas. Owing to the low number of measures within focal areas 5 and 6 (2 measures and 1 measure respectively) overviews for these focal areas have not been produced.

There were long term declines for 6 measures (46 per cent) within focal area 1 (status and trends of the components of biological diversity), reflecting the very large declines in bird and butterfly populations seen in the 1970s and 80s. Since 2000 all assessed measures show either improvement or little or no overall change since 2000. These conclusions should be viewed with some caution as changes are more difficult to assess over the short term.
Within other focal areas there is little variation between the long term and 'since 2000' assessments. Exceptions are within focal areas 3 (threats to biodiversity) and 4 (ecosystem integrity and ecosystem goods and services) where one measure in each, showing long term improvement, shows little or no change since 2000. All other changes are owing to differences in data availability for long term and 'since 2000' assessments.

Notes to editors:


1. The table below lists all 18 indicators (and their constituent measures) included in the publication. Traffic lights assessments of long term change and change since 2000 are shown for all measures.

1 The earliest available year is used as the baseline for assessment of long term change. The base year used for each measure is shown in the table. Where data are unavailable, or do not precede 1996, a long term assessment is not calculated.

2. The traffic lights are determined by comparing the value of the measure in the base or start year with the value in the end year. A three year average is used to calculate the base year, to reduce the likelihood of any unusual year(s) unduly influencing the assessment.
Where an indicator value has changed by 3 per cent or more, a red or green traffic light is assigned depending on whether this change is in the right direction (green) or in the wrong direction (red). If the value has changed by less than the threshold of 3 per cent, the traffic light is set at amber. The choice of 3 per cent as the threshold is arbitrary but has proven to be helpful in deciding on the most appropriate traffic light.
Where data are available, two assessment periods have been used:
* Long-term - an assessment of change since the earliest date for which data are available, although, if data do not precede 1996 a long term assessment is not made.
* Short-term - an assessment of change since 2000 (or the closest date for which data are available)

3. Free copies of Biodiversity indicators in your pocket are available from Defra Publications, Admail 6000, London, SW1A 2XX (tel: 08459 556000, e-mail:, quote product code PB12626. The publication and associated data are also presented on the JNCC:

4. National Statistics publication
National Statistics are produced to high professional standards set
out in the National Statistics Code of Practice. They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs. They are produced free from any political interference.

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