UK Biodiversity Indicators

Updated 4 December 2014


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UK Biodiversity cover photo 2014

Biodiversity is the variety of all life on Earth.  It includes all species of animals and plants, and the natural systems that support them.  Biodiversity matters because it supports the vital benefits we get from the natural environment.  It contributes to our economy, our health and wellbeing, and it enriches our lives.

The UK is a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and is committed to the biodiversity goals and targets ‘the Aichi targets’ agreed in 2010 and set out in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.  We are also committed to developing and using a set of indicators to report on progress towards meeting these international goals and targets.  There are related commitments on biodiversity made by the European Union, and the UK indicators may also be used to assess progress with these.

The UK indicators were comprehensively reviewed during 2011 and 2012 to ensure they continued to be based on the most robust and reliable available data; and remained relevant to the new international goals and targets1.  Since then the indicators have been refined to improve their relevance/quality, and new indicators developed to fill gaps.  In this version of the publication each of the indicators has been updated with the most recent data wherever possible.  In some cases, however, development work is ongoing, and where this is the case, the work to develop them has been described briefly.

Indicators are useful tools for summarising and communicating broad trends.  They are not intended to incorporate all the relevant information available in the UK.  They are best seen, as their name suggests, as indicative of wider changes.  The UK biodiversity indicators formed a major part of the UK’s 5th National Report to the CBD in 2014, supplemented with other information relating to UK biodiversity and implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. 

Biodiversity policy is a devolved responsibility in the UK: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have each developed or are developing their own biodiversity or environment strategies.  Indicators are being developed to track progress with the respective commitments in each country.  The UK indicators have a specific purpose for international reporting and were selected following consultation and agreement between the administrations.  The indicators provide a flexible framework and a common set of methodologies which in some cases can also be used for country reporting.  The indicators may be subject to further review as necessary. 

The UK Biodiversity Indicators are dependent on a wide variety of data, provided by Government, research bodies, and the voluntary sector.  As Official Statistics, the presentation and assessment of the indicators has been verified by the data providers, and the production and editing of the indicators has been overseen by Government statisticians.

Links to the full detail of each of the previous editions are provided on the website (stored on the National Archives website).  At the 8th Biodiversity Indicators Forum (BIF8) , a recommendation was made to publish a transparent statement of the level of confidence that can be ascribed to each individual indicator.  The Biodiversity Indicators Working Group (Defra and JNCC) have undertaken a preliminary assessment which will be peer-reviewed during 2015.

This is a Defra National Statistics compendium (see Annex for further details and enquiries about indicators or this publication).

1 This review involved wide consultation with the UK Biodiversity Indicators Forum, involving key stakeholders.


UK Biodiversity Indicators 2014


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UK Biodiversity Indicators 


The following links will take you to previous versions of UK Biodiversity Indicators.