There has been coverage in recent days by New Scientist and ENDS Report of Defra’s decision to only publish key biodiversity indicator data in 2022.
The coverage includes incorrect claims that publishing the data has been “cherry picked” and that the department has been “burying the evidence”. Such claims fail to recognise that this is part of wider work to improve our indicator data, and therefore lead to improved transparency and policy making to protect and enhance nature.
We last reviewed our indicators in 2012, and since then much has changed, including the passing of the Environment Act 2021 and our new species abundance target. As we move towards the vitally important Convention of Biological Diversity (CBDCOP15), where the UK government will be pushing for ambitious global action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss globally, we are conducting a thorough review of our suite of biodiversity indicators. This will ensure that the best possible data is available, helping to inform the best possible decisions on biodiversity policy into the future.
As well as ensuring the indicators fit with UK targets and England level strategies, the review also considers wider user needs beyond policy making. This includes potentially increasing the marine content of the indicators and identifying opportunities to improve the dissemination and accessibility of the indicators. We expect to finish the review by the end of the year.
While this review is ongoing, key indicators are still being published. These cover important areas such as pollinating insects, protected areas, global biodiversity impacts and the relative abundance of priority species. We have prioritised the indicators needed for reporting on the 25 Year Environment Plan or the State of Nature Report to maximise transparency.
All data which would have been published in 2022 will be available next year, meaning there will be no missing data and our progress on protecting and enhancing the natural environment can be fully scrutinised.
This review is just one part of our wider efforts to improve our data and monitoring of the natural environment. The government has also committed £140m towards the Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (NCEA), a science innovation and transformation programme being carried out by Defra and its delivery partners, that will provide key ecosystems data and analysis.
NCEA will provide data on the location, extent and condition of England’s ecosystems over time through a systems approach. This will identify trends and provide indications of why they may be occurring, providing essential information for effective biodiversity policy decisions, including, for example, informing local authorities and Local Nature Recovery Strategies with data and evidence. The NCEA will provide opportunities to develop new or improve existing indicators on biodiversity, to enhance the evidence base we need to develop successful, long-term policies to improve biodiversity across the UK.
More broadly we also publish indicators beyond biodiversity as part of our regular reporting on progress made towards delivering the 25 Year Environment Plan. We intend to finish developing and publishing the entire suite of 66 broader indicators by 2024.
Comment by Paula Saunderson posted on
We need much more of a sense of urgency about this work. Everyday Local Authorities continue to mindlessly destroy habitats and eco-systems by poor management of lands for Wildlife. Many Officers who I speak to are I’ll-informed and don’t understand how to weave improvements for biodiversity through their Projects and Operations. Unless we get Local Authorities to be leaders in halting destruction how can we expect the general population to change attitudes and behaviour. Property Managers are not even aware of the new Green Infrastructure Framework, its principles, and the mapping tool is not always accurate with regards to Public Open Spaces. They don’t seek advice from LLFA when coming up with designs and too many concrete SuDS are being created when many more Nature-based Solutions could be incorporated. And we also have a National shortage of Drainage Engineers so you need to take action on that as well. I could go on but that’s enough for now.
Comment by Ray Walton posted on
The data already sourced and provided is probably so bad and damning under DEFRA's Watch...that they need to cover it all up and need time deflect blame onto others.
Comment by Janet Henderson posted on
DEFRA appears to be in the habit of refusing engage with reputable publications before articles are printed and then claiming that they are inaccurate. When you actually drill down into what the reports were saying, it appears that DEFRA is treating data in what can only be described as a politically motivated manner. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that except that a) DEFRA does not acknowledge its biases and is not transparent about the pressure groups on which research depends, whereas reputable scientific publications can be checked out for such influences and b) political motivation notably skews scientific enquiry in ways that must be acknowledged for the science to be weighed and understood. This is unfortunate and increasingly frequent behaviour by a government department. It's very difficult to trust knee-jerk information given out by DEFRA. The causes of decrease in biodiversity and the potentially serious consequences are an accelerating emergency requiring a degree of urgency in both research and action which appears to be lacking in DEFRA's work.
Comment by Deborah Catherine Smith posted on
£140 million towards the NCEA is peanuts, a token gesture. It seems that DEFRA would prefer to put effort into awarding contracts for specialists to assess the ongoing damage and deterioration of the environment/ecosystems and biodiversity than to be serious and genuine enough to lead the change in laws that stop the terrible damage in the first place. It's a pseudo-scientific form of misery voyeurism and I am sure that very few are reassured by this announcement.
Comment by Dave Stanley posted on
Why are comments invited when the guidelines state “ Generally this blog will not have comments turned on for our posts. ”???
Total waste of readers time?
And a response would be appreciated please!
Comment by Dave Stanley posted on
If the additional biodiversity data isavailable why isn’t this being published in 2022 rather than 2023? Is something being hidden or does Defra just not understand the urgency of addressing the severely depleted biodiversity in the UK?