UK Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket (BIYP)

Updated 20 May 2011

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UK Biodiversity Indicators in Your Pocket 2011


Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth. It includes the diversity of individual species, the genetic diversity within species and the range of ecosystems that support them.


The indicators were originally developed by the UK Biodiversity Partnership Standing Committee to report on progress towards meeting international goals and targets to stem or slow the rate of biodiversity loss2. There have been significant developments in 2010 and 2011 in the international frameworks for biodiversity action and for assessing and reporting biodiversity change:

  • In October 2010, the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, including the UK, agreed to a new set of goals and targets for the protection of biodiversity globally. They also agreed to continue to produce global and national indicators to track progress with 20 new targets (known as the ‘Aichi targets’)
  • A new European target was adopted at the Environment Council in Brussels on 15 March 20103, and a new EU Biodiversity Strategy was published by the Commission at the start of May 2011.


2 In 2001, European Union Heads of State or Government agreed that biodiversity decline should be halted with the aim of reaching this objective by 2010.  In 2002, Heads of State at the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development committed themselves 'to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level, as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth'.

3 The new European target is 'Halting the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, and restoring them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss.


In anticipation of these new targets, a review of the UK indicators was initiated in 2010 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.

Although this review is still in progress (see the discussions at the 5th UK Biodiversity Indicators Forum), it is clear that the current set, with some refinements, will remain relevant to the new international goals and targets. There are some gaps, where further indicators will need to be developed or where existing indicators will need to be adapted and interpreted. A rolling programme of changes to the indicator set has been agreed and will be implemented over the next three years.


In the meantime, and in the interests of transparency and accountability, the existing indicators will be updated and published on-line in May of each year.


The suite of biodiversity indicators for the UK was first published in June 2007. The indicators show changes in aspects of biodiversity such as the population size of important species or the area of land managed for wildlife. They provide part of the evidence to assess whether the targets set out above have been achieved.


Eighteen UK biodiversity indicators are presented. The indicators show changes in the status of wildlife; species and habitats; the level of pressure or threat to biodiversity; and the scale of the response to these pressures. The indicators are still grouped under six focal areas aligned to those used by the Convention on Biological Diversity in its 2002 Strategic Plan and in the European biodiversity indicators, although they will be re-aligned to the themes of the new Aichi targets in due course:

  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


Whilst indicators are useful tools for summarising broad trends and highlighting high-level messages, they can never describe all of the changes in the UK’s biodiversity. They are best seen, as their name suggests, as indicative of these wider changes.  Whilst they will form the basis of the UK’s assessment of progress towards the biodiversity targets, other factors and sources of information are also taken into account.


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


Previous versions of the indicators are available for download below, and links are provided to the full detail of each of the previous editions (stored on The National Archives website).


BIYP 2011



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BIYP 2010



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BIYP 2009



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BIYP 2008


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BIYP 2007



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