The UK government will only publish seven of 24 environmental indicators for England this year

Environmental activists have accused the British government of ‘cowardice’, over its decision to publish less than a third of the metrics it uses to track nature’s health in England this year.

Keeping a close eye on biodiversity indicators is an essential part of monitoring and managing threats, such as climate change.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) had previously announced that it would suspend reporting on all biodiversity indicators in 2022, so it could align them with UN targets.

However, following pressure from environmentalists, it has just announced that it will publish seven of 24 indicators for England for 2022 – excluding those on water quality, habitats and populations of birds.

Defra added that this year’s full assessment will be released in 2023, and he does not expect the delay to result in loss of data.

However, campaigners say the announcement, ahead of the UN Biodiversity Summit in December, is a brazen attempt to “bury the evidence” that it is failing to tackle wildlife loss.

“It is inappropriate and irresponsible to try to conceal the scale of the challenge we face,” Elliot Chapman Jones, public affairs manager for The Wildlife Trusts, told MailOnline.

Only seven of the 24 indicators for England will be published for 2022, excluding those on water quality, habitats and bird populations. Pictured is a redshank – one of the UK’s endangered bird species

The low-key announcement of the reduced biodiversity data list comes after the government said it would temporarily suspend the 2022 measurement publication year. Pictured: Pollution of Lake Windermere, Lake District

The low-key announcement of the reduced biodiversity data list comes after the government said it would temporarily suspend the 2022 measurement publication year. Pictured: Pollution of Lake Windermere, Lake District

WHAT IS BIODIVERSITY ?

Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth.

It encompasses the diversity in the number of species of plants and animals, the genetic diversity within and between these species, and the different biomes and ecosystems of which they are part.

It provides us with food directly or through pollination, medical discoveries and ecosystem services.

The latter includes everything from cleaning water and absorbing chemicals, what wetlands do, to providing oxygen for us to breathe.

The Earth’s biodiversity is declining due to activities such as deforestation, land use change, agricultural intensification, overconsumption of natural resources, pollution and climate change.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has announced the decision to publish the data in a Footnote on last year’s biodiversity strategy and indicator assessment.

Last year, A new scientist revealed that the government would temporarily stop publishing its biodiversity data for 2022.

Defra now appears to have backtracked and decided to release a reduced set of indicators this year instead.

These include global impacts on biodiversity, air pollution, protected areas, status of priority species (relative abundance), butterflies, pollinators and biodiversity expenditures.

These “have been chosen based on data availability, user needs and timeliness”, according to Defra.

However, they exclude the state of threatened habitats of European importance, forest species, pollution (atmospheric and marine) and the removal of greenhouse gases by forests, as well as 13 others.

Richard Benwell, from the Wildlife and Countryside Link coalition, told the END of report: ‘This year’s limited set of indicators cannot hide the story behind the numbers.

“Instead of rapid progress towards the recovery of species and habitats, we see that sites and species continue to decline.”

Mr Chapman Jones of the Wildlife Trust added: ‘Our natural world is in dire straits with 15% of species threatened with extinction forever.

“The UK government needs to present the full picture of the species situation, rather than picking numbers that help tell the best PR story.

“Our future on earth depends on the health of our natural world.”

Naturalist and animator Chris Packham told new scientist: ‘Cherry-picking which ones is just cowardice.

‘Pretending they need a break in a time of absolute crisis is like saying we’re going to withdraw the fire brigade in the middle of the Blitz so we can pull ourselves together and think about what we’re doing.

It’s ridiculous. I think it’s mainly because the news that’s going to emerge is bad news.

Environmentalist Mark Avery, co-founder of the nonprofit Wild Justice campaign, said new scientist: ‘Defra is failing to address wildlife loss and has therefore decided to bury the evidence.

“It’s a department without shame.”

In a statement, Defra said the decision to delay the publication of its biodiversity indicators will not lead to any missing data.

“Data that would have been published this year will be available in 2023,” he said.

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) says the review of indicators should “take into account the new global biodiversity framework to 2030 being negotiated under the Convention on Biological Diversity”

The next UN Biodiversity Summit – where Parties to the Convention meet – will be held in Montreal, Canada, in December.

This is to discuss the global biodiversity framework and set a series of targets to halt the reduction in biodiversity globally by 2030.

The first part of the landmark meetings took place virtually from Kunming, China last October and was delayed due to the pandemic.

It is intended to succeed the strategic plan for biodiversity from 2011 to 2020, which defines the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

The UN Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 report, released in 2020, revealed that the world has has not fully achieved any of the conservation objectives.

Climate change puts nearly one in three species of all kinds at risk of extinction by 2100, new study finds

Climate change is intensifying the global extinction crisis, a new study warns.

A research team, led by the University of Minnesota, has found that nearly one in three species – 30% – will be extinct or threatened by 2100.

This is mainly due to the loss of biodiversity, which is the result of production and consumption, human population and climate change.

The majority of species include plants and insects, as well as other invertebrate animals, which play key roles in air purification, water filtration, and the health of Earth’s soil.

Learn more here

Climate change is intensifying the global extinction crisis, a new study warns.  A research team, led by the University of Minnesota, has found that nearly one in three species - 30% - will be extinct or threatened by 2100

Climate change is intensifying the global extinction crisis, a new study warns. A research team, led by the University of Minnesota, has found that nearly one in three species – 30% – will be extinct or threatened by 2100