Status and trends of the UK’s natural environment underpin
most of our work. They are at the heart of the advice we give, the
evidence we produce, the reporting we carry out and the priorities
we set for JNCC.
Traditionally, trends have identified changes in the
distribution, extent, status or quality of species and habitats and
rely heavily on results from surveillance and monitoring schemes
and biological recording. Where possible the causes of trends are
also explored to measure and address environmental pressures.
Increasingly, there is also a demand for information on changes in
ecosystem services – the benefits to human well-being provided by
the natural environment. There is also a desire to express
trends in ecosystem services in economic terms.
The status of species is measured through monitoring
and surveillance and is usually set out in terms of
distribution or population size. In contrast, habitat status is
expressed in terms of extent and quality. Ecosystem services are
most usefully measured in economically or socially-relevant
Listing or designation processes that give status to species and
habitats in recognition of threat and rarity also play a role. JNCC
maintains a register of conservation status designations and is involved
in aspects of this work.
The status and trends of species and habitats also provide
building blocks that are used to support UK’s commitment to
outcome-oriented reporting and assessment. They form the basis of
UK and country biodiversity indicators, evidence reports, in response to UK reporting
obligations and advice.
Species Status Assessments
The species status assessment is a means to
identify conservation priorities that is recognised around the
world. Assessments should be objective and based on scientific
information. Information on species conservation status and
distribution should provide a foundation for informed
decision-making about preserving biodiversity at all levels.
Assessments take two forms, Red Data Books and Red Lists. Red
Data Books provide a review of the status of particular species
groups at global, regional or national levels. They incorporate Red
Lists, which catalogue all threatened species in a particular area.
Species are classified according to perceived risk: extinct,
threatened, near threatened or least concern.
Red Data Books and Red Lists
JNCC has played a key role in the production of Red Data Books
and, more recently, stand-alone Red Lists. In most cases we have
worked with relevant non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and
specialist societies to prepare and publish lists.