Select Committee on Environmental Audit Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 1


  (a)  Development of the UK BAP can be tracked from the original Biodiversity: the UK Action Plan 1994, through the Steering Group Report 1995 and the Government Response 1996, the Tranche 1 Species and Habitat Action Plans 1995 and the successive volumes of Tranche 2 Species and Habitat Action Plans, 1996-99.

  (b)  Following the publication of the UK BAP, a UK Steering Group was set up. It was chaired by the then Department of the Environment (DOE), with members drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors. Sub-groups were set up to look more closely at targets, data requirements, public awareness and local action. Although chaired by DOE, the Steering Group was an independent partnership.

  (c)  In December 1995 the Steering Group published Biodiversity: the UK Steering Group Report. Volume 1: Meeting the Rio Challenge and Volume 2: Action Plans. The first volume established criteria for the selection of species and habitat types of conservation concern and the second volume contained costed Action Plans for 116 priority species and 14 priority habitats. It recommended that Action Plans be prepared for further priority species and habitats and that delivery should be co-ordinated and monitored by a UK Group. The further plans were subsequently published so that, by October 1999, a total of 391 Species and 45 Habitat Action Plans were in place.

  (d)  The Government published a response to the Steering Group report in May 1996. It wholeheartedly welcomed the Report and accepted its main recommendations. The UK Biodiversity Group (UKBG) was established as a successor to the Steering Group, serviced by a Biodiversity Secretariat based in DOE. The Government asked the UKBG to produce a report every five years.

  (e)  Sustaining the variety of life: five years of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, DETR 2001 responds to that request. It gives an account of the action the UKBG has identified and overseen and co-ordinated input to the objectives established for the biodiversity process in the UK. Significant achievements over the first five years include:

    —  A unique and highly successful public/voluntary/private sector partnership established to take forward the UK BAP.

    —  Drawing up of 391 individual Species Action Plans (SAPs) and 45 individual Habitat Action Plans (HAPs) for the species and habitats at most risk in the UK.

    —  Despite the short period for implementation, 54 per cent of HAPs and SAPs show progress towards their targets. Thirty-three priority species and five priority habitats are showing signs of recovery; 58 species and one habitat are thought to be stable.

    —  Preparation and implementation of around 160 Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPs) covering 100 per cent of Scotland and Wales and the majority of England.

    —  Major wildlife legislation in England and Wales which incorporates the Biodiversity Convention into domestic law (Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000).

    —  A continuing increase in active national and local biodiversity partnerships, for example, 243 separate organisations involved in 191 HAP/SAP steering groups.

    —  Establishment of the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Trust to provide a basis for the development of a comprehensive web-based information source.

    —  Public membership of 10 leading biodiversity conservation organisations rose by 18 per cent from 1995-2000, to a total of nearly five million.

  (f)  The UKBG and its sub-groups have drawn on research, survey, analysis and other material to support its findings and recommendations. These sources include:

    —  358 Reports from the Lead Partners and Agencies of the SAPs and HAPs made in September-October 1999.

    —  An independent evaluation of progress made by outside consultants, Entec UK Ltd, of the biodiversity process.

    —  Research comparing the actual costs of implementing the Action Plans compared with the predicted costs based on a sample of Tranche 1 Action Plans undertaken by consultants Baker, Shepherd, Gillespie.

    —  Information gathered from co-ordinators of Local Biodiversity Action Plans (LBAPs) including a survey of LBAPs in England in autumn 2000.

  (g)  The biodiversity website ( has aimed to deliver guidance and information to those involved in national and local implementation of the UK BAP process across a wider public audience. In Spring 2001 an upgraded version of the website was launched, giving improved access to information and raising awareness of biodiversity and the UK BAP to a wider public audience.

  (h)  In the Rural White Paper Our Countryside: the Future—A Fair Deal for Rural England the Government announced it would prepare a biodiversity strategy for England in consultation with the England Biodiversity Group. Sustaining the variety of life: five years of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan considered that a biodiversity strategy for England presented a significant opportunity to establish a clear strategic direction, priorities and monitoring framework for biodiversity in England. The strategy is currently under development, with a view to presenting a final version to Ministers by the end of July 2002.

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