Conservation status assessment

The reporting format set by the European Commission requires a separate analysis for each species and each habitat listed on the annexes to the Habitats Directive in each biogeographic zone which that country covers.  The report for the UK covers both metropolitan UK (Atlantic biogeographic region) and Gibraltar (Mediterranean biogeographical region).  The Atlantic part was completed by JNCC in consultation with species and habitats specialists in the country conservation agencies.  The Mediterranean part was completed by the Gibraltar Ornithology and Natural History Society under contract to the Government of Gibraltar.  
 
The Habitats Directive defines when the conservation status of the habitats and species it lists is to be considered as favourable.  The definitions it uses for this are specific to the Directive; in summary, they require that the range and areas of the listed habitats, and the range and population of the listed species, should be at least maintained at their status when the Directive came into force in 1994 or, where the 1994 status was not viable in the long term, to be restored to a position where it would be viable.
 
The assessment of conservation status does not only relate to that component of the habitat area or species population to be found in Special Areas of Conservation, but to the totality of the habitats and species throughout the United Kingdom.  The 2007 Article 17 report prepared under the Habitats Directive is the second six year report, but it is the first in which Member States have reported on the conservation status of the listed habitats and species.  The European Commission and Member States have agreed standards for classifying the status of these habitats and species.  This is to ensure that all Member States report on a similar basis.
 
When assessing the conservation status of habitats, four parameters are considered.  These are:  range, area, structure and function (referred to as habitat condition) and future prospects.  For species, the parameters are: range, population, habitat (extent and condition) and future prospects.  Each of these parameters is assessed as being in one of the following conditions: Favourable, Unfavourable-inadequate, Unfavourable-Bad, or Unknown.  The European Commission and Member States have agreed standards for these assessments, and the European Commission has also produced supplementary guidance  to assist in the assessment process.
 
In addition to assessing the individual parameters referred to above, Member States are also required to make an overall assessment of the conservation status of each of the habitats and species.  This overall assessment is determined by reference to the conclusions for the individual parameters, and, in general, reflects the least favourable of the individual parameter conclusions.
 
In relation to its assessment of 'range', 'area' and 'population' parameters referred to above, the UK has established baseline values in accordance with the favourable conservation status definitions given in the Directive.  Where the range, area and population were considered to be viable in 1994 (or the nearest date to that for which relevant data exist), that situation was taken as the baseline, and the agreed assessment standards applied to determine current conservation status.  Where any of the parameters were considered not to be viable in 1994, the baseline was set at what was considered to be the value of viability on the basis of expert opinion and available scientific data.
 
In relation to its assessment of the parameter of 'structure and function', the UK has utilised information provided under its protected areas (common standards) monitoring programme.  While the results from this programme do not conform precisely to the standards agreed by Member States and the European Commission for structure and function (because they only relate to that proportion of the habitat within protected areas, and because the two sets of standards are not precisely the same), they nonetheless represent the best data available for this purpose.  Where available, other relevant data are also taken into account when making these assessments.
 
When considering the assessment of the 'future prospects' parameter, no guidance has been provided to Member States as to the time-frame to be considered.  The United Kingdom has taken this time-frame to be about two reporting cycles of the Directive (12 years, i.e., between now and about 2020).  In drawing conclusions on future prospects, the United Kingdom has taken into account action already taken where benefits are expected to accrue between now and 2020 (the ‘unfavourable recovering’ category in the JNCC Common Standards Report, and also further action expected to be taken, both as part of the site conservation programme, and as part of implementing the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

 

 
Readers can find below a number of technical notes which have helped JNCC undertake this work and the results of the species and habitats assessments.
 

Downloads and links:

 

 
Technical notes