2020 Challenge for Scotland's Biodiversity

A strategy for the conservation and enhancement of biodiversity in Scotland.

7 Measuring progress


A framework of indicators that we can use to track progress.

Key actions

  • Put in place a programme of work to measure progress towards the 2020 outcomes, so that we can track progress and deal with problems.
  • Work more closely with the growing number of volunteers to develop our understanding of the changing state of nature.
  • Develop and support the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum to bolster the collection and wider use of biodiversity data in Scotland.
  • Publish a terrestrial habitat map for Scotland.

Measuring progress

It is crucial that we are able to track progress towards the 2020 outcomes, and use this information to help us adapt our actions and management as necessary. Some of our aspirations are broad and ambitious, and we need to develop new approaches and broad datasets to measure our progress.

The current suite of Scotland's biodiversity and public engagement indicators will be up-dated, and where appropriate individual indicators will be modified. New indicators of ecosystem health are being devised and the new Natural Capital Asset Index ( NCAI) (2012) [12] will be used to measure the extent of, and reasons for, change. This suite of indicators will provide us with a clear understanding of our progress towards the 2020 outcomes, and monitor our contribution to Aichi and European biodiversity targets.

Ecosystem health indicators will need to operate at both national and local scales as they will help determine priority ecosystems for restoration. They might cover the quality of soils, water and habitats, extent of semi-natural land, an index of connectivity, a measure of diffuse pollution, the presence or absence of functional groups, some measure of species diversity, and, perhaps, a measure of penetration by invasive non-native species.

We will provide descriptions of progress to supplement the indicators, and rapidly identify problem areas. The Scottish Biodiversity Committee is the focal point for reporting on progress. We shall continue to record activities that support biodiversity through BARS (Biodiversity Action Reporting System). We need more partners to use this as it helps to quantify the breadth of biodiversity action across Scotland and the UK. The spatial mapping of biodiversity action also provides opportunities to identify gaps and potential for collaboration.

Reporting progress against Aichi Targets

The Convention on Biological Diversity sets out five strategic goals and 20 'Aichi' Targets' (2012) [5] . These provide the international framework within which we can develop indicators of progress. At the European level, this monitoring is undertaken through a set of biodiversity indicators to which the UK contributes. We want to have an additional Scottish component, which will include the current biodiversity and engagement indicators, and new ones to reflect ecosystem health. We will link these to UK indicators where they exist.

We shall therefore develop a new biodiversity indicator framework, setting out the metrics required for informed decision taking and reporting up to 2020. Actions to improve our understanding don't necessarily start with new data collection but, instead, with making more effective use of results, expertise and resources. By making existing information more accessible we can focus sharply on genuine knowledge gaps. These include assessments of ecosystem health across conservation related European directives as well as benefits for wildlife through programmes such as SRDP. Bringing information together in one place, keeping it up-to-date and making it accessible for use across sectors, policies and purposes, is now being made possible through Scotland's Environment Web. In this way the results of indicator monitoring will be made available for use in combination with other environmental data across the full spectrum of policy purposes, whether local, catchment or national in scale.

Table 2 shows the relationship between the Aichi Targets, Scottish outcomes from the 2020 Challenge, and proposed and current UK indicators.

Table 2. Links between Aichi targets, strategy outcomes and indicators.

CBD Strategic Goal

Aichi target Scottish outcomes from 2020 Challenge

Proposed UK
2020 indicator

Current UK
2010 indicator

A. Address the
causes of
loss by
1, (17) Ch 1 Engaging
A1. Awareness,
and support for
None available

Ch 1
Ch 3
health and quality
of life

A2. Taking
action for nature:
time spent in
Volunteer time
spent in biodiversity
and background
information from
Defra's public
attitude survey
2, 4, (18) Ch 2 Valuing
Natural Capital
A3. Value of
integrated into
decision making
None available
4 Ch 2 Efficient
resource use

A4. Global
impacts of UK
economic activity/

None available

CBD Strategic Goal

Aichi target Scottish outcomes
from 2020 Challenge

Proposed UK 2020 indicator

Current UK
2010 indicator

B. Reduce the
direct pressures
on biodiversity
and promote
sustainable use
3, 7, (4) Ch 5 Sustainable
land and water
B1. Agricultural
and forest
area under
management schemes
Area of land in
Area of forestry land
under sustainable
6, (4) Ch 6 Productive
and biologically
diverse seas
B2. Sustainable

UK stocks harvested
sustainably and at
full reproductive

4, (2, 3) Ch 2 Sustainable
economic growth
B3. Integration
of biodiversity
into business
None available
10 Ch 1 Ecosystems
are restored to
good health
B4. Pressure
from climate
Spring index
8, 10 B5. Pressure
from pollution
Air pollution: sulphur
Air pollution:
Ch 6 Clean and
healthy seas
Marine pollution:
heavy metals
9 Ch 4 Wildlife is
B6. Pressure
from invasive
Extent of invasive
species (terrestrial)
Extent of invasive
species (freshwater)
Extent of invasive
species (marine)

(5, 14)

Ch 5 Sustainable
land and water
B7. Water quality Biological quality of

CBD Strategic Goal

Aichi target Scottish outcomes
from 2020 Challenge

Proposed UK
2020 indicator

Current UK
2010 indicator

C. To improve
the status of
and genetic

Ch 1
are restored to
good health

Ch 4 Quality
and quantity of
our wildlife is
improving and

Ch 5 Sustainable
land and water

C1. Protected
Total area of protected
sites (terrestrial and
Total area of protected
sites (marine)

Condition of SSSIs

5, (11) C2. Habitat
Connectivity of woodland
and neutral grassland
(context only)
5 C3. Status of rare
and threatened
Baseline data for previous
article 17 report
12 C4. Status of rare
and threatened

Previous UK BAP
reporting round +
background baseline data
for previous article 17

7, 12, 14, (13) C5. Birds of the
wider countryside
and at sea
Farmland birds
Woodland birds
Wetland birds
Wintering water birds
7, 12, 14, C6. Insects in the
wider countryside
Generalist butterflies:
woodland, farmland
7, 12, 13, 14 C7. Plants in the
wider countryside
Change in plant species
richness (enclosed farmland)
Change in plant species
richness (woodland and hedgerows)
Change in plant species
richness (grassland and boundaries)
7, 12, 14, (13) C8. Bats (and
other mammals
of the wider
Widespread bats
13, (16) C9. Genetic
for food and
Effective population size
Effective population size

CBD Strategic Goal

Aichi target Scottish outcomes from 2020 Challenge

Proposed UK
2020 indicator

Current UK
2010 indicator


Enhance the
benefits to all
from biodiversity
and ecosystems

14, 15, (4, 6) Ch 6 Clean,
healthy, safe,
and biologically
D1. Biodiversity and
ecosystem services
Fish size classes
in the North Sea
(as a measure
of capacity to
sustain long-term
14, 15 Ch 1
are restored
to good health
D2. Biodiversity and
ecosystem services
None available

through planning,
management. and
capacity building

(2, 3)

Ch 2 Valuing
Natural Capital
E1. Biodiversity data
for decision making
None available
20 Ch 2 Investing
in Natural
E2. Expenditure
on domestic and
Expenditure on
domestic biodiversity
Expenditure on

Working with volunteers and other people to develop the evidence base - citizen science

In Scotland we are very fortunate to have a highly energetic, broad based and skilled volunteer network. Even some of the little known taxonomic groups have specialists carrying out fundamentally important work on their conservation and ecology. Much of this work is curiosity driven, and we applaud and encourage it.

Volunteer enthusiasts predominantly observe nature and are involved in systematic recording of plants and animals. This has given rise to a wealth of knowledge, and enabled us to establish trends and indicators. Several national recording schemes, such as those for birds, plants and butterflies, have become world exemplars. Scotland's Environment Web ( SEWeb) lists at least 19 initiatives reflecting and fostering volunteer based monitoring. The website provides advice on how people can get started in wildlife recording. A vital part of this is to ensure habitat and species information is collected consistently, notably through the National Biodiversity Network ( NBN) and its marine counterpart, the Marine Environmental Data and Information Network ( MEDIN).

With at least 79,000 species present in our land, fresh waters and surrounding seas, we need priorities for monitoring. The habitats and species of European importance, and those named under EU legislation, are clearly at the top of the list. For many of these we already have indicators that are being monitored across a network of sites through a coherent survey programme.

Managing the evidence base

Cross-sectoral approaches to information gathering and cooperative working will be promoted through the CAMERAS (Coordinated Agenda for Marine, Environment and Rural Affairs Science) Environmental Monitoring Coordination Group. A Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum has recently been established to guide key discussions between those involved in data collection (predominantly volunteers but also government and the private sector) and data users (predominantly government, but others as well).

Access to reliable, quality-assured information about Scotland's environment and how it is changing is crucial to inform decision-making by government as well as public bodies, businesses and others. We hope that, as we develop the indicators we can use the SEWeb to see these in context, alongside other environmental facts and figures.

As we have seen in the first two chapters, a growing understanding of the importance of our natural capital can inform good decision-making, for example in development planning and the SRDP. However, the evidence needed to manage our natural capital wisely, and to make the most of the services provided by ecosystems, is incomplete. Therefore, we shall develop a suite of indicators to inform adaptive management and contribute to further reporting on Aichi Targets.

Although we have several excellent atlases showing the distribution of groups of species, ranging from birds, mammals and butterflies to flowering plants, we do not have a comparable atlas for habitats on land (there is an excellent marine atlas of habitats and species). We want to publish a map of Scotland's land habitats based on a pan-European classification ( EUNIS-Annex 1). This map (to be completed in 2019) will reflect the great diversity of habitats we have in Scotland and, in time, be used to support surveillance and monitoring. Indeed, this map will become an essential tool in making decisions on planning, policy and land management issues. This is an ambitious proposal, and an appropriate note on which to close the 2020 Challenge - and to begin a truly challenging piece of work.


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