The indicator shows the change in status of the 371 priority
species assessed between 1999 and 2008. Every three years, the
status of each priority species was assessed by a range of experts
across the UK. The indicator assessment is based on the
change in the status of 339 species for which a status assessment
is available in at least one of the recording years.
The Plan was revised in 2007 and the number of priority species
increased to 1,150, but assessments are not available for this
extended list. The UK BAP was replaced in 2011 with a
UK framework, with priorities set at country level, for example
through the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy. A new indicator
is being developed to reflect these country priorities.
For many species, status assessments are not available for all
recording years. To make best use of available data, the
change in status was assessed by comparing the earliest available
assessment for each species, with the most recent. The
majority of the earliest assessments (74 per cent) were from 1999
or 2002. The majority of the most recent assessments (85 per
cent) were from 2008.
Of the 339 species in the indicator, the number that were
assessed as either ‘stable’ or ‘increasing’ shows a small net
increase from 202 to 214. This modest change in the indicator
is assessed as an improvement, although there was a slight fall in
the number of species actually ‘increasing’ from 48 to 45.
The majority of species were reported in the same assessment
category in both 2005 and 2008, although there has been some
turnover of species over the period.
In broad terms, the number of species that moved from the
decreasing category to ‘stable’ or ‘increasing’ outweighed those
moving in the other direction, but there are no obvious patterns in
these changes. Of the species that were declining in 2008, 66
were also declining in 2005. Six species changed from
declining in 2005 to 'lost' in 2008 (in addition to species lost
prior to the publication of the Plan).
This turnover between categories means that while the graph
shows an increase in the number of species stable or increasing, it
is not necessarily the same species which are improving.
Species that moved from ‘decreasing’ in 2002 to either ‘increasing’
or ‘stable’ in 2008 include the shrill carder bee (Bombus
syvarum), great yellow bumblebee (Bombus
distinguendus), reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
and the heath tiger beetle (Cicindela sylvatica). Very few
species have moved from ‘increasing’ to ‘declining’ although there
are some examples: Newman’s lady fern (Athyrium flexile)
and fen orchid (Liparis loeselii).
The increase in number of species reported as lost, which came
from the declining and unknown categories in 2005 iwas an
additional cause for concern. Table C4i shows the number of
species reported in each category in 2005 and in 2008.
Table C4i. Trend comparison between 2005 and 2008
for UK BAP priority species.
Twelve of the 47 species recorded as ‘unknown’ in 2005 (25 per
cent) were reported as stable and one as increasing in
There are 175 species for which there is a status assessment
available in three consecutive recording years (2002, 2005 and
2008; 1999 being a year with poor returns). Figure C4ii shows
the change in status for these 175 species. Although not
making best use of all the available data, the figure does show a
similar trend, with a gradual increase in the number of species
recorded as either ‘stable’ or ‘increasing’ from 82 to 101.
Figure C4ii. Changes in the status of the UK
BAP priority species, for 175 species that have been assessed
in all recording years 2002 to 2008.
Source: Joint Nature Conservation
Committee, the UK Biodiversity Partnership, Defra.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan originally contained 391 plans
(for 381 species and 10 species groups). Species-groups are
excluded from this indicator because there was little information
on their status over the period. I n addition, a number of the
original priority species were, by 2008, considered as
recognisable 'varieties’ of other species rather than as separate
species in their own right. The remaining 371 species are
included in the indicator.
Status assessments for UK Biodiversity Action Plans priority
species were undertaken in 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2008.
Assessments were undertaken by a variety of conservation
organisations and agencies. The amount of data available
varies from species to species; some assessments were based on
comprehensive survey and some on expert opinion. The
indicator takes the assessments at face value.
The first assessment (in 1999) took place very soon after many
of the plans were published and comparatively few assessments were
made. The indicator therefore compares the earliest available
status assessment (i.e. 1999 if it is available, 2002 if it is not,
2005 if neither 1999 or 2002 are available) against the latest
(2008, if available, 2005 if not and so on).
Figure C4iii. Detailed status of UK BAP priority species
Notes: Based on 288 listed priority
Source: Joint Nature Conservation Committee,
the UK Biodiversity Partnership, Defra.
As can be seen from Figure C4iii, the categories used in 2008
(and in each of the previous three assessments) were more detailed
than the four categories used in the indicator. This is
because different assessment categories were used in the four years
and they have been compiled to allow easier comparison across years
The 2009 presentation is a refinement of the indicator published
in 2007 which presents data for 189 species from 2002 and 2005
only. A technical background paper is available and provides
a more detailed description of the method (see attachments
Table C4ii. Consolidation of status assessment
categories for presentation in the indicator.
Categories used in the indicator
Categories used in the original assessments
Fluctuating – probably increasing
Signs of recovery
Fluctuating – probably stable
Fluctuating – probably declining
Lost (pre BAP publication)
Lost (since BAP publication)
No data entered Lost pre UK BAP
Unknown (presumed extinct)
Fluctuating / No clear trend
No clear trend
No data entered
Supplementary data from the 2007 Habitats Directive Report
Article 17 of the European Union Habitats
Directive requires Member States to report every six years on
progress made with maintaining and/or restoring favourable
conservation status for habitat types and species of community
interest. The first assessment of conservation status of
species and habitats listed on the annexes of the Directive was
produced in 2007, and the next report is due in mid-2013.
Within the Habitats Directive, species can be
listed on one or more of three annexes:
- Annex II: Animal and plant
species of Community interest whose conservation requires the
designation of Special Areas of Conservation;
- Annex IV: Animal and plant
species of Community interest in need of strict protection;
- Annex V: Animal and plant
species of Community interest whose taking in the wild and
exploitation may be the subject of management measures.
The UK reported on 89 species in the
Atlantic biogeographic region in 2007. In addition, 28
species classed as vagrants or occasional visitors (4 bats, 16
cetaceans, 4 turtles, and 4 seals) to the UK were not fully
assessed. Instead a paragraph of information was
provided on the occurrence of each of these vagrant species.
Each individual species assessment requires
information on four parameters, which are brought together using an
evaluation matrix to form an overall assessment. These
- habitat for the species; and
- future prospects.
Each assessment needs to conclude whether the
species is in one of the following states:
Details of exactly what information is to be delivered, and how
it should be formatted, is laid out in the report
format and guidance note.
JNCC published a summary of the conservation status of the species
and habitats listed on the Annexes of the Habitats
Directive after the 2007 results had been finalised, which
incorporates a variety of analyses, for example by taxonomic group,
or by Directive Annex. The information below is a summary of
the species listed on Annexes II / IV / V. It is anticipated
that comparative statistics will be produced when the next report
is delivered in 2013.
Figure C4iv. UK conservation status assessments for the
89 UK species listed on Annexes II, IV or V of the EU Habitats
Directive, assessed in 2007.
Source: Joint Nature Conservation
Figure C4iv is based on the categories of
status that can be reported. However, it is likely to take a
considerable time before species move from unfavourable
conservation status to favourable conservation status, so
information on trends is important to enable a judgement for
unfavourable assessments as to whether they are improving or
declining. Information for each species on the threats and
pressures that they are facing will be part of the evidence
required to make this assessment of overall trend, as it will be
particularly relevant to the future prospects parameter.
For Figure C4v trend information in the assessments was used
to produce a different presentation – this is based on the same
assessments shown in Figure C4iv. For assessments which were
unfavourable the unfavourable inadequate and unfavourable-bad
assessments which showed similar direction of trend were
- Unfavourable-inadequate but improving, and
unfavourable-bad but improving were summed to form the category
‘unfavourable but improving’
- Unfavourable-inadequate and declining, and
unfavourable-bad and declining were summed to form the category
‘unfavourable and declining’
- Unfavourable-inadequate, and unfavourable-bad
assessments with no trend conclusion were summed to form the
- The favourable and unknown categories are the
same as in Figure C4iv.
Figure C4v. UK conservation status assessments for the 89
UK species assessed in 2007, showing trend in overall
Source: Joint Nature Conservation
A quarter of species assessed are favourable, a quarter are
unknown, and just under a fifth are improving. The results
for species are better than for habitats (see supplementary
information for indicator C3
; sustained effort will be required
to move unfavourable species into favourable conservation status,
and focussed effort is required to turn around the prospects for
those which are still deteriorating.
The number of species in favourable status is
similar for each annex, but more Annex IV species have an unknown
status. This is mainly down to a lack of knowledge about the
population and habitats of cetaceans and bats. About half of
the species on Annexes II and IV are either favourable or
improving. For Annex V the equivalent figure is about a
third. The quarter of Annex V species which are
deteriorating, and third which are unfavourable but neither
improving nor deteriorating, shows the importance of taking
positive management measures.
Looking at broad groups of species, the status of a quarter of
the invertebrates listed is deteriorating; this is probably due to
the difficulties of taking effective conservation action for
them. The status for a considerable number of vertebrates is
unknown. This is because of the difficulty of interpreting
their use of a variety of habitats either at different parts of
their life cycle, or due to a complex ecology, or because of the
difficulty of survey. Some of the species for which this
applies (e.g. bats, cetaceans) are quite difficult to study.
A third of the plants have an improving conservation status
– it is easier to take conservation action at a
habitat level for many plants than for animals.
Supplementary information on Birds of Conservation Concern
Three ‘Birds of Conservation Concern’ status
assessments for birds in the UK (1996, 2002 and 2009) have been
undertaken by leading UK bird conservation organisations from both
the statutory and non-governmental sectors. These have
reviewed the status of each regularly occurring species against a
set of quantitative criteria which assess global conservation
status, historical population decline, recent population decline
(numbers and geographical range), European conservation status,
rarity, localised distribution, and international importance of
populations (more details in the references below) in order to
place each species on one of three lists: ‘Red’, ‘Amber’ or
‘Green’. By using such a simple ‘traffic light’ system, a
single, easily understood measure for each species can be provided
which can be used to convey concern and hence to help set
priorities for conservation action. Note that the colours are
used to imply status, and are not used in the same way as the
traffic lights in the indicators to assess trends.
Figure C4vi. UK Birds of Conservation Concern, 1996 to
Notes: The number of species
assessed was 248 in 1996, 247 in 2002, and 246 in 2009.
Source: British Trust for
Ornithology, Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Natural England,
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Wildfowl and
BoCC1, produced in 1996, ’red-listed’ 36
species and ’amber-listed’ a further 110. This review was
pivotal in the recognition of a number of common and widespread
species, most notably those of farmland such as skylark (Alauda
arvensis), linnet (Carduelis cannabina) and corn
bunting (Emberiza calandra), as urgent conservation
priorities following declines related to agricultural
The next review, BoCC2, was published
in 2002; the Red list grew to 40 species (nine species moved onto
the Red list, whereas five moved from Red to Amber) and the Amber
list to 121. This review saw the addition of a number of
woodland birds (e.g. lesser spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos
minor, marsh tit Poecile palustris and willow tit
P. montana) to the Red list amid growing concern for
declining woodland birds, but recovery in a number of historically
depleted species (e.g. red kite Milvus milvus and marsh
harrier Circus aeruginosus) resulted in them moving from
the Red to Amber lists.
Of 246 species assessed in BoCC3, 52 (21.1 per
cent) were placed on the Red list, 126 (51.2 per cent) on the Amber
list and 68 (27.6 per cent) on the Green list. Eighteen
species moved onto the Red list since the last assessment in 2002,
and six moved from Red to Amber. With one exception, Balearic
shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus), all of the 18 species
new to the Red list were moved there because of population
declines. The shearwater has been added to the IUCN global
Red List since BoCC2 owing to sustained population decline
and a small geographical range. Of the 18 new red-listed
species, one (Balearic shearwater
Puffinus mauretanicus) was not assessed previously,
and one (Arctic skua Stercorarius parasiticus) moved
straight from Green to Red; the other 16 species were Amber-listed
by BoCC2. Just one species, common quail
(Coturnix coturnix), showed a recovery from historical
decline in this review, being one of six species to move from Red
to Amber. Of the other five, the two widespread species (reed
bunting Emberiza schoeniclus and bullfinch Pyrrhula
pyrrhula) did so because of population recovery to the extent
that neither now shows a severe population decline (although this
is only just so in the case of bullfinch). Stone-curlew
(Burhinus oedicnemus) and wood lark (Lullula
arborea ) both moved from Red to Amber because of recoveries
in range, while Scottish crossbill (Loxia scotica) was
moved to Amber because a recent survey (the first ever) has
revealed that it is not as scarce as was previously thought and so
should not qualify as Globally Threatened. While it is
preferable to keep the assessment procedure the same between
reviews to ensure comparability, some changes were made for BoCC3 –
most notably to introduce a longer time period over which
population declines are assessed. This was felt to be
necessary to avoid down-grading species which no longer show severe
declines over the most recent 25 years, but have made no recovery,
or have declined further. BoCC3 also introduced assessment of
races of birds – allowing recognition of the importance of the UK
for endemic races, and to distinguish between races of the same
species that face different pressures.
BoCC1: Gibbons, D., Avery, M., Baillie, S.,
Gregory, R.D., Kirby, J., Porter, R., Tucker, G. and Williams, G.
1996. Bird Species of Conservation Concern in the United Kingdom,
Channel Islands and Isle of Man: Revising the Red Data list.
Conserv. Rev., 10, 7–10.
BoCC2: Gregory, R.D., Wilkinson, N.I., Noble,
D.G., Brown, A.F., Robinson, J.A., Hughes, J., Procter, D.A.,
Gibbons D.W. and Galbraith, C.A. 2002. The population status of
birds in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man: an
analysis of conservation concern 2002–2007. British Birds,
BoCC3: Eaton, M.A., Brown, A.F., Noble, D.G.,
Musgrove, A.J., Hearn, R.H., Aebischer, N.J., Gibbons, D.W., Evans,
A. and Gregory, R.D. 2009. Birds of Conservation Concern 3: the
population status of birds in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands
and the Isle of Man. British Birds,
Further development planned
As a result of changes to the way the UK BAP
is delivered the data collations used to keep the indicator updated
are no longer available.
Work is now underway, led jointly by
Government bodies and by voluntary organisations, to develop a new
indicator for threatened species in the UK – one that reflects the
priorities in each of the four countries of the UK but makes best
use of volunteer data collected at GB, UK or British Isles
One option for augmenting the indicator is to
make better use of existing data collation on the status of species
listed in Annexes II / IV / V of the Habitats Directive – see
supplementary data for information relating to the 2007 Article 17
report to the European Commission. The next Article 17 report
is due to be delivered in June 2013. Another option is to use
the data collated on the status of bird species – Birds of